Idaho photographer Kai Eiselein is suing BuzzFeed in U.S. District Court, claiming the site should pay not only for infringing his copyright when it ran his image but also for all the sites that subsequently posted it.
"Since BuzzFeed was the original poster of this set of images and provided them for distribution; the defendant is unequivocally responsible both directly and indirectly for all subsequent infringements," Eiselein's complaint reads.
That's an admirably avant-garde legal theory, an area of scholarship in which BuzzFeed is already a thought leader: BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has argued the site's lists constitute a transformative use of others' photos, and thus fall under fair use. Jeff John Roberts writes that it's unlikely Eiselein's “contributory infringement” can "succeed on a legal basis — if he does, the case would throw a large chill over the sharing culture that has become a fixture of the social web." (more...)