Panoramic Stock Images, Ltd. v. The McGraw-Hill Cos., No. 12 C 9881, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 9, 2013) (Pallmeyer, J.).

Judge Pallmeyer denied defendant McGraw-Hill’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss certain of plaintiffs’ (collectively “Panoramic”) claims that were allegedly related to defective or unissued copyrights in this case involving licensing of stock photographs.  The parties had a license pursuant to which McGraw-Hill could use certain of Panoramic’s images pursuant to some restrictions.  Panoramic alleged that McGraw-Hill exceeded those restrictions regarding at least 170 of the images.  McGraw-Hill counters that Panoramic’s claims should be dismissed as to 101 of those images because Panoramic lacks valid copyrights as to those images.  The Court held as follows:

  • McGraw-Hill argued that 52 images had deficient copyrights because they were registered without identifying the authors or the titles of the images in violation of § 409 of the Copyright Act.  Panoramic argued that the works were compilations which did not require identification of the author or title of the specific images.  The Court noted a circuit split upon the issue, and that the Seventh Circuit had not squarely addressed it.  Without controlling precedent and deferring to the Copyright Office’s reading of the statute — that no author or title were required for compilations — the Court denied McGraw-Hill’s motion and allowed Panoramic to continue asserting the copyrights on the 52 images.  The Court also noted that there was not a notice issue in this case because McGraw-Hill was sufficiently aware of the copyright owner to have licensed with Panoramic for the images at issue.
  • The Court held that Panoramic could assert the 49 images for which it had applied for copyright, but not yet received a registration.  The Court noted a circuit split on the issue, but that the Seventh Circuit, not without some uncertainty, had determined that a copyright applicant could file suit based upon their application.