In an opinion Wednesday, Judge Failla found that the website Gossip Cop was liable for posting screen grabs of copyrighted photos from other websites, and rejected Gossip Cop’s argument that doing so was “fair use.”  Gossip Cop’s fair use argument was premised on the fact that it commented on whether the underlying news stories associated with the photos were true or not, but Judge Failla found that the commentary had nothing to do with the photos themselves:

[A]llowing Defendant to copy Plaintiff’s images directly from third-party licensees and to frame that copying as “news reporting,” when Defendant’s articles provide no comment on the licensees’ use of the respective photographs — and thus, on the facts of this case, add no additional meaning or expression to those photographs — would effectively allow Plaintiff to license its images only once; after an initial licensee published the photo, third parties could then copy it with impunity.

Judge Failla noted that Gossip Cop achieved some success in the lawsuit by virtue of the court recognizing that, under different circumstances, screen grabbing photos could be fair use:

On some level, Defendant has lost the battle, but won the war; this Court agrees that its website may present images from other articles under a fair use theory, but concludes that its use of the three images in question did not constitute fair use.