While some are celebrating an $ 8.3 million dollar judgement against Zillow affirming they infringed on the copyrights of VHT, this really isn’t all that good for rights holders, nor the photographers that produced the images — they will not see a dime.
There were a total of 28,125 images that were alleged to have been infringed, and of those, 19,312 were registered. The defendant even went so far at one point to admit they infringed upwards of 5,000 images, yet the court found that of the 28,125 image that were infringed, 3,373 were willfully infringed, and awarded $ 1,500 per image (instead of what could or should have been as much as $ 150,000 per image had it not been a database registration) and of the 15,939 other images that were infringed, the court awarded $ 200 per infringement, and the actual damages awarded was $ 2.84 per image. (Yes, two dollars and 84 cents). That equates to $ 79,875 as the actual damages that Zillow has to pay for what VHT claimed was 28,125 images infringed.
Of the $ 8.3 million dollars, all the work produced was done as a work-made-for-hire, where the photographers were paid $ 60.00 to photograph AND MEASURE each home. So, in addition to taking the photographs, they had to do the manual labor of measuring each room of the house as well, all for $ 60, and they will receive $ 0.00 because they did not own the copyright nor any rights to the photos.
|VHT’s actual damages award||28,125||Rate: $ 2.84||79,875.00|
|Total actual damages from infringement eligible for statutory damages||54,846.08|
|Number of Image Infringed Willfully||3,373||Rate: $ 1,500||5,059,500.00|
|Number of Image Infringed Innocently||15,939||Rate: $ 200||3,187,800.00|
|Number of Images Infringed Neither Willfully nor Innnocently||0|
Both sides are expected to appeal this ruling. As an interesting sidebar, this case was heard and decided by the same judge that issued a temporary restraining order halting President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration.
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