Photograph of Sylvester Stallone at Center of Copyright Dispute

Howard Schatz d/b/a Schatz Ornstein Studio and Beverly Ornstein d/b/a Schatz/Ornstein Studio v. Atlanta Men’s Clinic LLC and Does 1-10, Civil Action No. 1:22-cv-02254-TCB (N.D. Ga. June 6, 2022)

Plaintiffs Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein, collectively d/b/a Schatz Ornstein Studio, brought suit against Defendants Atlanta Men’s Clinic LLC and John Does 1-10 in the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta Division) on June 6, 2022. The Complaint purports to assert a claim for copyright infringement and unauthorized removal of copyright management information in violation of the Copyright Act of the United States, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. and 17 U.S.C. 1202. Plaintiff Schatz is a world-renowned photographer whose work focuses on the structure and physique of the human form and whose work has been published in popular magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Time, and Vogue. At issue in the Complaint is a photograph Plaintiff took for Sports Illustrated in February 2013 of actor Sylvester Stallone in the film production of “Grudge Match” highlighting Stallone’s tattoos on his shoulders and chest, which was ultimately registered with the US Copyright Office. The “Grudge Match” photograph is displayed on Plaintiff’s website with a copyright notice and signature. Defendant Atlanta Men’s Clinic is a business offering health and wellness treatments to men in and around Atlanta that operates a website in connection with its business. The Complaint does not include any allegations against Defendant Does 1-10 other than to claim that they are “responsible in some capacity for the occurrences herein alleged.”

The Complaint alleges that, on or around August 23, 2020, Plaintiffs discovered their copyrighted “Grudge Match” photograph on Defendant’s website (without the copyright information) in connection with a September 12, 2018 article advertising testosterone replacement therapy. Plaintiffs sent a cease and desist letter to Defendants and communicated with Defendants by email and telephone between September 3, 2021 and October 30, 2021. The Complaint alleges that the copyrighted “Grudge Match” photograph was still displayed on the Defendants’ website as of the filing of the complaint.

Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs assert causes of action for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq. and removal of copyright management information in violation of 17 U.S.C. 1202. The Complaint seeks actual damages, a disgorgement of profits, attorney’s fees, and injunctive relief. The case has been assigned to Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr.

Categories: Copyright, N.D. Ga.

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