Goodreads hit with copyright suit over fan photo

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A photo agency has filed a lawsuit against Goodreads, the Amazon-owned social network for book lovers, over a celebrity image posted by one of the site’s members.

In a complaint filed last week in Los Angeles, BWP Media is seeking $150,000 in copyright damages related to the unauthorized posting of a photo showing Dalton Rappatoni, a member of boy band IM5.

The photo appears as part of a “Group” page on Goodreads dedicated to the boy band. The Goodreads group has four young female members and the photo in question appears at the center of a montage at the bottom of the page:

Screen shot of Goodreads photo

The lawsuit, one of several filed by BWP, appears to be part of what some describe as a “copyright trolling” operation in which image owners use software to find unauthorized use of their photos on the internet and then work with law firms, sometimes on a contingency basis, to demand large sums of money. In the last year, federal judges have begun to take a dim view of certain aggressive trolling tactics.

Craig Sanders, a lawyer for BWP Media, did not return repeated requests for comment about the lawsuit. BWP Media may face an uphill fight against Goodreads, which is likely shielded by a law called the DMCA, which can protect websites from legal liability for content posted by third parties.

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