Panoramic Stock Images, Ltd. v. McGraw-Hill Global Educ. Holdings, LLC, No. 12 C 9881, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 25, 2014) (Pallmeyer, J.).

Judge Pallmeyer denied defendant McGraw-Hill’s motion for summary judgment regarding a statute of limitations and granted in part plaintiff Panoramic Images’ motion for summary judgment of copyright infringement in this case regarding Panoramic Images’ stock photos that McGraw-Hill used in certain textbooks.

After noting that this case was one of many involving copyright infringement claims for overuse or improper use of stock photos, the Court held as follows:

  • Applying the discovery rule because the Seventh Circuit had not expressly adopted the injury rule over the discovery rule, the Court held there was a question of fact as to when Panoramic Images discovered the copyright infringement. McGraw-Hill alleged that Panoramic Images learned of the infringement no later than November 2009 when its president read a story regarding unauthorized use of stock photographs by publishers. But Panoramic Images argued that it did not learn of the infringement until October 2012 when a publisher contacted Panoramic Images regarding potential overuse of its stock photos.
  • While Panoramic Images may have been placed on inquiry notice in 2009, the discovery rule required actual or constructive notice, not just inquiry notice.
  • The Court granted Panoramic Images summary judgment of copyright ownership as to each photograph registered in the name of the photographer because McGraw-Hill did not dispute ownership. For those photos that were allegedly registered using a nom de plume, there was a question of fact as to ownership.
  • The Court granted Panoramic Images summary judgment of copyright infringement as to each image that McGraw-Hill did not challenge its infringement based upon use beyond its contractual rights.
  • The Court denied copyright infringement as to those titles which McGraw-Hill challenged its alleged overuse by digital distribution. Panoramic Images’ allegations regarding different images were conflicting. Furthermore, the Court lacked sufficient evidence to determine whether McGraw-Hill’s use exceeded its contractual rights.
  • The Court denied Panoramic Images summary judgment as to McGraw-Hill’s laches defense for the same reasons as it denied McGraw-Hill summary judgment as to the statute of limitation.
  • The Court reserved ruling upon McGraw-Hill’s standing and sufficiency-of-copyright assignment defenses.