A Northwest Philadelphia-based photographer who claims his works were stolen and aired on a local news television program is suing the corporation that produces the show.
Jason DeCesare, of the city’s Chestnut Hill section, filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Comcast Corp. Dec. 1 in which he claims a picture he took of former Philadelphia newscaster Larry Mendte was used throughout a June 27, 2009, television broadcast of “It’s Your Call With Lynn Doyle.”
The lawsuit, which was filed by Philadelphia attorney J. Conor Corcoran at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claims that DeCesare had full rights to the photograph of Mendte, who was swept up in a scandal a couple years back after it was discovered that he had hacked into the email account of his then-fellow newscaster Alicia Layne.
Layne has since filed her own civil complaint against Mendte. The case was supposed to get under way last spring, but was put on hold when Layne’s attorneys requested a venue transfer to New York. The request was subsequently denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the trial is expected to get under way soon.
In his complaint, DeCesare alleges that he had taken a photograph of, and conducted an interview with, Mendte back on April 27, 2007.
About a week later, the suit states, DeCesare published his photo and interview on a website called Phillyist.com. It was published under the pen name “G.W. Bridge.”
On April 27 of that year, DeCesare had also published the photo and interview under a different pen name, “Triborough.” This time, the copyrighted material was put up on the website Flickr.com, the lawsuit states.
After appearing on the Lynn Doyle show on the Comcast Network, DeCesare’s works were also put up on the video sharing website Youtube, the suit states.
“Defendant intentionally, knowingly and willfully, directly and/or derivatively, outrageously, recklessly, negligently and/or maliciously stole the Plaintiff’s photo and thereby infringed Plaintiff’s copyright on at least four occasions,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims that the photograph had been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office and assigned a registration number. The information was attached to the lawsuit as an exhibit, as was the photo itself and the accompanying interview.
“The Defendant has intentionally and unlawfully stolen and reproduced the Plaintiff’s photograph, infringing upon his copyrights therein and inuring considerable profits from the same,” the lawsuit states.
“In so doing, Defendant had produced the infringing broadcast and website through the airwaves, cable providers, the Defendant’s website and/or other media, adding to the considerable public popularity of its own products and/or services, and thereby infringing upon Plaintiff’s copyright therein and inuring considerable profits from the same.”
The lawsuit claims that no Comcast representative ever contacted DeCesare about possibly reproducing his works. DeCesare has also never profited from the reproduction of his works.
The lawsuit contains two counts of copyright infringement and one count of violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
DeCesare seeks declaratory relief against Comcast as well as attorney’s fees and other court costs.
A jury trial has been demanded.
The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07417-SD.