The Intellectual Property Court rendered the 105-Min-Zhu-Su-1 Civil Decision of July 11, 2016 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that since it is predictable that using pictures downloaded from the Internet may involve copyright issues, an actor should conduct proper verification to avoid copyright infringement.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff filed a complaint on the following ground. The Plaintiff’s company dedicates itself to the publication of creative digital image contents and audiovisual materials, has set up a professional creative image repertory website to handle the licensing of original pictures and enjoys the copyright to the photographic works relating to the pictures at issue in this case (hereinafter, the “Works at Issue”). After finding that the website operated by the Defendant’s company engaged in reproduction and public transmission of the Works at issue and failing to reach a settlement, the Plaintiff filed this complaint to seek damages. The Defendant contended that it had downloaded from a website that offers free pictorial materials the pictures at issue which were specified to be available for free download. However, after learning that they might potentially be infringing, the pictures were removed from the website. Therefore, the Defendant should not be held at fault and the Plaintiff did not prove its substantive harm, either.
According to the Decision, although the website that provides free pictorial materials has the same pictures as the Works at Issue, still it only indicated “free download” but did not provide them for use free of charge. In addition, since the Defendant failed to provide documents substantiating that it had obtained a license from relevant rights holders, it could hardly be concluded that the Works at Issue were legally licensed, and the Defendant could not be reasonably believed to have a lawful right to use them. Since it is predictable that using pictures downloaded from the Internet may involve copyright issues, an actor should conduct proper verification to avoid copyright infringement so as to perform the duty of care as a good administrator who has typical knowledge and experience in transactions. Therefore, the Defendant’s no-fault defense was not acceptable.
It was further examined in the Decision that since the webpage where the Works at Issue were located was not the homepage of the Defendant’s company and had only been used as illustrations before they were subsequently removed from the webpage, it would be appropriate to award damages in the amount of NT$60,000 for their usage during a period of around six months.