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Bill Diodato Photography, LLC v. Kate Spade, LLC

388 F. Supp. 2d 382 (2005)

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Bill Diodato Photography, LLC v. Kate Spade, LLC

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

388 F. Supp. 2d 382 (2005)

Facts

Bill Diodato, a fashion-accessory photographer and the owner of Bill Diodato Photography, LLC (BDP) (plaintiff) took a photograph as part of a series featuring fashion accessories. The photograph depicted a view from outside the bottom portion of a bathroom stall, showing a woman’s feet in stylish shoes, astride a toilet, with a light brown handbag resting on the floor. The photograph was not published in the series and Diodato chose to submit the copyrighted photograph to Kate Spade, LLC (Spade) (defendant), a fashion accessory company. Ten months later, Spade ran an advertising campaign that included a similar photograph taken from outside the bottom of a bathroom stall showing a woman’s feet in stylish shoes, astride a toilet, with a handbag on the floor. Spade’s photograph was similar to BDP’s photograph in scene and concept, but comparatively unique in its mood, colors, lighting, object depth, and view. BDP brought suit against Spade under the Copyright Act for copyright infringement. BDP alleged that Spade actually copied the copyrighted photograph after Diodato submitted it and that Spade’s photograph was substantially similar. Spade argued that the scene and concept of BDP’s copyrighted photograph was an idea that had been used often in the popular culture and was not a protectable element. Spade argued that any substantial similarity between the photographs was unrelated to protectable elements of the copyrighted work and was not actionable as a copyright infringement. Spade moved for summary judgment on the copyright-infringement claim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

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