Music Mondays – Bruno Mars & Warner Music named defendants in a copyright lawsuit over social media photo

On November 20th, both Peter Gene Hernandez, the American singer-songwriter-producer who goes by the professional name Bruno Mars, and New York City-based Warner Music Inc. were named as defendants in a copyright case filed in the Southern District of New York by Burbank, CA-based photographer Catherine McGann. The lawsuit targets Mars’ social media use of a photograph of himself taken by McGann when Mars was performing as an Elvis impersonator as a child.

Plaintiff McGann alleges that on June 21st, Mars copied the child photograph of himself and posted it to a series of social media websites including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. An exhibit attached to McGann’s complaint depicts a screenshot of the Bruno Mars Facebook page including the posted photo which had garnered more than 235,000 ‘likes.’ McGann alleged that the Instagram post received more than 1.2 million likes and the Twitter post received 63,000 likes and nearly 15,000 retweets.

McGann argues that Mars and Warner Music, who helps Mars maintain the social media websites, used the photograph of Mars without any license or permission from McGann to do so. The complaint indicates that McGann registered the photo with the U.S. Copyright Office under the registration number VA 2-067-037. McGann’s complaint includes a single count for federal copyright infringement and seeks actual damages, defendant’s profits and prejudgment interest.

– Excerpt from article by Steve Brachmann. See the full article here

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