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Steven Brown, D/B/A Looking Glass Photography v. Suburban Life Publishing

April 15, 2011

STEVEN BROWN, D/B/A LOOKING GLASS PHOTOGRAPHY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUBURBAN LIFE PUBLISHING, LLC, D/B/A SUBURBAN LIFE PUBLISHING GROUP, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.

MEMORANDUM

April ____, 2011

This matter is before the Court following a bench trial held on December 6, 2010. Having reviewed the testimony and evidence presented at trial, as well as the submissions of counsel and pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure the Court hereby makes and enters the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. Introduction

1. This is an action for copy right infringement and conversion pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. as amended, and Pennsylvania law. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant unlawfully converted his work and infringed the copyright of six photographs through its reproduction of the images in its publications.

2. Plaintiff, Steven Brown, d/b/a Looking Glass Photography, is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

3. Plaintiff is a professional photographer by trade whose rates vary depending upon the publication. As compensation for his services, Plaintiff typically charges within the range of $55.00 to $1,000.00 per photograph, depending upon the market.

4. Defendant, Suburban Life Publishing, LLC, d/b/a Suburban Life Publishing Group, is a New Jersey Corporation doing business at 106 E. Center Boulevard, Marleton NJ, 08053.

5. John C. Hirth is currently the publisher at Suburban Life Publishing, LLC.

B. Initial Contract

6. In 2007, Mr. Hirth, then publisher and part-owner of a publication known at the time as Lifestyle Magazine, commissioned Plaintff to conduct a photoshoot of Cafe Alessio, a restaurant located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.*fn1 Plaintiff was not contacted directly by Cafe Alessio.

7. No written agreement was executed between Plaintiff and Lifestyle Magazine.

8. On May 28, 2007, Plaintiff conducted a photoshoot for Cafe Alessio for the purpose of a one-time run of advertisements in Lifestyle Magazine.

9. Although the photographs were for a single use, Lifestyle Magazine reserved the right and Plaintiff agreed that Lifestyle Magazine could reproduce the photographs within the Lifestyle family of publications. Said family of publications included inter alia, Bucks Living, Montgomery Living and New Town Living.

10. "It was the policy of [Lifestyle] Magazine that Dash Publishing would work with and pay the photographer directly for the limited use of contracted photographs while the D'Angelo, former investor with Lifestyle Magazine attested that "[t]his was the case for Steve Brown's photographs of Cafe Alessio." ( D'Angelo, Aff. ¶ 6).

photographer retained the rights to his or her work for later reproductions and derivative works." (D'Angelo, Aff. ¶ 5. June, 30, 2010). John

11. Mr. D' Angelo further attested that he was "aware of instances in which photographs and advertisement cop[ies] from Bucks and Montgomery Living were reproduced without authorization in magazines with which Mr. Hirth was associated." (D'Angelo, Aff. ¶ 7).

12. Upon completion of the photoshoot, Plaintiff delivered the photographs via email to Andrew Loder, then creative ...


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