My second copyright infringement lawsuit just settled out-of-court before the case went to trial. As I wrote in an earlier post, the typical “my photo is on your website without permission” copyright infringement case isn’t all that valuable. In my first lawsuit—a default judgement—a judge awarded a total of $4868.70, which included statutory damages for me, legal fees for my attorney, and the court filing fees. My second case settled for $5,000. After expenses, I got roughly $2,500 (as compared to $2,250 in the court awarded settlement).
Attorneys who handle typical Internet-based photograph copyright infringement cases do not file lawsuits with any intentions of ending up in court. Two things are going to happen. One, the defendant picks up the phone and finally negotiates a settlement. This is after the defendant ignored my personal offer to settle, then my attorney’s offer to settle without a lawsuit. The second outcome is that the defendant ignores the lawsuit and never responds, which results in a default judgement. A patent attorney friend of mine said that most such cases end up as default judgments.
With two settled lawsuits under my belt, I have one default judgement and one out-of-court settlement. It will be interesting to see which way the typical case swings, and I currently have a half-dozen other lawsuits in the works, so I’ll soon get a good idea.