Beyonce Photographs Lead to LiveJournal Going to Trial

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BANGKOK-JAN 29:: A waxwork of Beyonce Knowles on display at Madame Tussauds on on January 29 2016 in Bangkok Thailand.
BANGKOK-JAN 29:: A waxwork of Beyonce Knowles on display at Madame Tussauds on on January 29 2016 in Bangkok Thailand.

LiveJournal, a social media and blogging community, is in trouble for posting copyrighted photos of celebrities online. The Ninth Court reversed a previous ruling from a district court today, finding that “the district court erred in granting summary judgment to LiveJournal.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Paez states, “remand is warranted.”

The trial stems from charges in April 2013 when a suit was filed against the company by Marvix Photographs, a paparazzi agency. LiveJournal was accused of posting 20 copyrighted photos to a forum on their site.

The forum, considered very popular by Marvix, had ads to generate revenue.

Beyonce’s photo was posted to the forum, with the photo showing a then-pregnant Beyonce. The high-end photo was one of the first to indicate that the singer may be pregnant well before she announced it to her fans.

The agency specializes in releasing breaking photos and states that LiveJournal’s posting of the photos undercut the company’s profits. Magazines and other outlets often refuse to purchase photos that have already been published.

LiveJournal was given a favorable judgment in September 2014 when a judge ruled that LiveJournal qualified for immunity from prosecution because moderators posted the photos. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects online communities from liability when photos are uploaded by other entities.

The company must be able to show that the photos posted were uploaded by moderators and not the company itself. Moderators work on a volunteer basis and do not get paid for helping run the site. LiveJournal does have an employee that screens all of the material before it’s allowed to go live on the website.

The Ninth Circuit states that it’s unclear whether moderators acted on behalf of the company or on their own.

LiveJournal will need to show that the moderators acted on their own behalf and not on the directions of the company.

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