United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
G. BYRON, UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE
cause is before the Court following a one-day bench trial on
Monday, November 28, 2016. Having considered the pleadings,
evidence, argument, and relevant legal authority, and having
made determinations on the credibility of the witnesses, the
Court hereby renders its decision on the merits of this case
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52.
Megan Arron Duncanson (“Duncanson”) and Sheri
Marie Wiseman (“Wiseman”) initiated this action
against a variety of defendants on May 5, 2014. (Doc. 1).
Plaintiffs are visual artists who have authored and hold
copyrights to various works of art. Defendants hosted
“paint parties” where customers were taught to
paint a featured painting during the party. Plaintiffs allege
that Defendants used their copyrighted works at various paint
parties without their permission, in violation of the United
States Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101.
operative pleading is the Second Amended Complaint (Doc.
146), which contains a total of 163 counts of direct,
contributory, and vicarious contributory copyright
infringement. After several years of extensive motion
practice, Plaintiff Wiseman and all defendants except for
Defendant SJ Wathen Bloomington, LLC
(“Bloomington”) have been dismissed from the
action. Duncanson and Bloomington litigated the remaining
counts from the Second Amended Complaint (Counts 71-78) in a
bench trial before the Court on November 28, 2016. Counts 71,
73, 75, and 77 allege direct infringement, and Counts 72, 74,
76, and 78 allege contributory infringement. In lieu of
closing arguments, the parties submitted post-trial briefs
containing their final arguments. (Docs. 313, 315).
issues before the Court are as follows:
1. Whether Duncanson owns the various works of art involved
in this dispute, known as Blue Depth, Bubbling Joy
Collection, and Twisting Love 2007;
2. Whether Bloomington had any knowledge of the infringement
activity that occurred; and
3. The correct calculation of damages.
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1331, as
the case involves the alleged violation of the United States
FINDINGS OF FACT
Duncanson is a full-time artist who has painted
professionally since 1999. (Doc. 308, 17:3-9). Duncanson
sells her artwork through her personal website, and through
other on-line art websites, including Print on Demand, Fine
Art America, Zazzle, Art.com, AllPosters.com, Redbubble, and
Society6. (Id. at 26:18-24). Duncanson licensed the
use of her artwork to Uptown Art-a paint party studio-which
teaches students to paint some of her artwork during paint
classes. (Id. at 44:14-25). Pursuant to her
licensing agreement with Uptown Art, Ducanson receives a
licensing fee of $2 for every student who attends a paint
party class where her artwork is taught. (Id. at
2006, Duncanson painted original works she entitled Blue
Depth, (Id. at 21:13-15, 22:9-10), and
Bubbling Joy (Id. at 19:18-25). In 2007,
Ducanson painted an original work she entitled Twisting
Love (Id. at 24:17-19). She created each of
these paintings from her own imagination while working in her
personal paint studio. (Id. at 20:7; 23:2; 25:18).
2013, Duncanson submitted copyright registration applications
to the United States Copyright Office (“USCO”)
for the paintings Blue Depth, Bubbling Joy,
and Twisted Love. (Id. at 86:9-89:9). As a
result, the USCO issued certificates of registration for
Blue Depth (VA 1-11-154), Bubbling Joy
(1-860-451), and Twisting Love (VA 1-872-086).
and Canvas is a business model in the business of paint
parties. (Id. at 6:9-20). At all relevant times,
Defendant Bloomington was a licensee of Wine and Canvas, and
hosted paint parties where artists teach students how to
paint a featured painting through step-by-step instructions.
(Id. at 210:2-6).
artists who teach the paint classes are hired by Bloomington
as contractors. (Id. at 159:9-10). The contracted
artists choose what artwork they want to teach, and submit a
copy of that artwork to Bloomington. (Id.).
Prior to the parties, Bloomington makes a copy of the artwork
and submits it to Wine and Canvas corporate for approval.
(Id.). Bloomington advertises the featured artwork
on its website, www.wineandcanvas.com, and on its
facebook page. (Id. at 156:6-7).
www.wineandcanvas.com, customers can look at a
calendar for parties scheduled at numerous locations across
the country, and view images of the paintings that will be
taught at those parties. (Id. at 44:2-13). Customers
can then click on the image of the painting they are
interested in and sign up and pay for the class on the
website. (Id.). The cost of the class, as advertised
on the website, is $35 per student. (Id. at 51:2-5).
Bloomington also displays the artists' artwork on the
walls of the Bloomington studio. (Id. at 159:1-3).
2012, someone notified Duncanson that paint party studios
were using her original artwork. (Id. at 46:7-47:8).
After searching online, Duncanson found her artwork being
used on www.wineandcavas.com and Bloomington's
facebook page. (Id.). Specifically, Duncanson found
pictures of students painting her original artwork in paint
classes held by Bloomington. (Id.). Duncanson also
found her original artwork displayed in the calendar ...