WILLIAMSPORT — A copyright lawsuit filed by a professional photographer from the United Kingdom against Catawese Coach Lines Inc. in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania has been settled for $4,500.
The settlement by both parties was reached April 2.
In the suit, Richard Southall accused Catawese Coach Lines Inc. in Zerbe Township of unauthorized republication and public display of a photograph of Genting Hotel Casino in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The suit argued that Catawese published the photograph on its Facebook page to promote a trip it was advertising. The plaintiff alleged that the acts by Catawese were “willful, intentional and purposeful” in disregard of and indifference to his rights.
In response, Catawese, through its attorney Franklin E. Kepner, of Berwick, stated that no one affiliated with the bus company knew the photograph was copyrighted, adding that it was posted on the Facebook page without the knowledge of former Shamokin mayor William Milbrand, the owner of Catawese Coach Lines.
Catawese explained that the photograph was “innocently” posted by a secretary who wanted to publicize that the company was going to run groups to Hollywood Casino in Grantville.
Catawese had listed the following defenses in support of its request to dismiss the case.
• The posting of photograph and any alleged infringement was “completely innocent.”
• The photographs were removed by Milbrand once it was brought to his attention that the photographs were used.
• The plaintiff improperly represented that the photographs in question were of Hollywood Casino instead of Genting Hotel Casino.
• The plaintiff is not entitled to attorney fees and costs.
Milbrand said Tuesday that through the efforts his lawyer, the lawsuit was settled for $4,500.
“I just want to caution any business people about using the internet to get pictures. There are lawyers out there who have software, where they search for pictures and, bam, there’s a lawsuit,” Milbrand said.
Milbrand felt the federal government should require watermarks on copyrighted photos to alert people not to use the photo.
He added, “It was an innocent mistake that a staff member did — and we had to pay for it.”