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Bell v. Taylor

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 26, 2014

RICHARD N. BELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAMERON TAYLOR, TAYLOR COMPUTER SOLUTIONS, INSURANCE CONCEPTS, FRED O’BRIEN, and SHANNA CHEATAM, Defendants.

ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

HON. TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Cameron Taylor, Taylor Computer Solutions, Insurance Concepts, Fred O’Brien, and Shanna Cheatam’s (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Filing No. 81). Plaintiff Richard N. Bell (“Mr. Bell”) filed this action against Defendants alleging violations of copyright and state law. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ Motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

At the center of this dispute is a photograph, taken by Mr. Bell, of the Indianapolis, Indiana skyline (“the Indianapolis Photo”). Mr. Bell took the Indianapolis Photo in March 2000 and first published it on the World Wide Web on August 29, 2000, by uploading it to a Webshots online account. It was later published on www.richbellphotos.com, sometime on or after March 15, 2011, where it is available for purchase or license for $200.00. Mr. Bell registered the copyright of the Indianapolis Photo effective on August 4, 2011.

A. Factual History

Cameron Taylor (“Mr. Taylor”) does business as Taylor Computer Solutions. He operated a website called Taylorcomputersolutions.com, which is alleged as a source of copyright infringement between January 2009 and April 14, 2011. The website consisted of 10 webpages, and the primary product sold was computer repair services. A photograph of the Indianapolis skyline taken at night was displayed on the “Locations” webpage of Taylorcomputersolutions.com. Mr. Bell took the photograph and owns the copyright of this nighttime photograph of the Indianapolis skyline. (“nighttime Indianapolis Photo”). Mr. Taylor downloaded the nighttime Indianapolis Photo from an unspecified website and uploaded it to Taylorcomputersolutions.com. Mr. Taylor did not download or display the Indianapolis Photo.

Shanna Cheatam (“Ms. Cheatam”) is a real estate agent who advertises her services on ShannaSells.com, which is alleged to be a source of infringement between June 2008 and June 15, 2011. The website consisted of 6 to 7 webpages, plus additional webpages for residential real estate listings. A photograph of Ms. Cheatam appeared at the top of each page of her website. Ms. Cheatam hired Jessica Wilch (“Ms. Wilch”) to design the website. Ms. Wilch downloaded the Indianapolis Photo from an unspecified “open source website, ” Filing No. 98, at ECF p. 1, and uploaded it to ShannaSells.com. The Indianapolis Photo appeared on the “Community” webpage of the website. During the period of infringement, the website averaged 144 hits per day.

Fred O’Brien (“Mr. O’Brien”) operated the website insuranceconceptsfinancial.com for a few weeks in early 2011, which is also the period of alleged copyright infringement. The website consisted of 17 webpages. Mr. O’Brien downloaded the Indianapolis Photo from an unspecified website and uploaded it to insuranceconceptsfinancial.com. The Indianapolis Photo appeared on the homepage and several other webpages. The website was never advertised or marketed, received little to no traffic, and has since been terminated. No business was generated as a result of the website.

Mr. Bell discovered Ms. Cheatam’s and Mr. O’Brien’s use of the Indianapolis Photo in April 2011 by utilizing Google Images search. He also discovered Mr. Taylor’s use of the nighttime Indianapolis Photo in April 2011.

B. Procedural History

On June 7, 2011, Mr. Bell filed this lawsuit, his third amended Complaint (Filing No. 5), against Defendants, and others who are no longer parties to this matter. That complaint was amended three times before the Court severed the claims and grouped like defendants together. This action was commenced on May 15, 2013, against Defendants. On March 12, 2014, Mr. Bell sought to amend his complaint a fourth time to reflect that Mr. Taylor and Taylor Computer Solutions had committed copyright infringement by using and publishing the nighttime Indianapolis Photo, instead of the Indianapolis Photo. The Court denied the motion on June 11, 2014 (Filing No. 97).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.Com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party’s favor.” Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). However, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of a claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation and internal quotations omitted). Finally, ...


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