Lawsuit Claims Hustler Violated Copyright

Q Boyer
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Photos taken of former WKBN news anchor Catherine Bosley have spawned yet another lawsuit, this time targeting adult entertainment giants Hustler Inc. and its sister company, LFP Inc.

In March 2003, Bosley participated in a wet T-shirt contest in Florida, where she and her husband were vacationing. Photos and video from the contest wound up being posted on the Internet. Bosley filed lawsuits against three web companies, eventually settling with My Way and Internet Key in March 2004, and Marvad Corp in May 2004.

According to court documents, Bosley obtained the rights to the photos and video shot at the wet T-shirt contest and registered the words with the U.S. Copyright Office in August 2004. In so doing, Bosley hoped to “put an end to the widespread and unauthorized distribution of the material depicting Bosley, and to control use of Bosley’s image in the future,” according to the complaint filed against Hustler.

Hustler allegedly published one of the copyrighted photos of Bosley in the February 2006 issue of Hustler Magazine, leading to Bosley’s complaint. The image reportedly was published in connection with a “Hot News Babes” promotion run by Hustler, in which readers were asked to “nominate local news babes” and “include pictures when possible.”

By encouraging its readers to send in photos of “news babes,” Bosley argued, Hustler engaged in contributory infringement of copyrighted work “without authority, permission, or consent by inducing, causing, or materially contributing to the infringing activities.”

“Readers are offered a ‘Hustler Prize Pack’ as incentive to make such infringing submissions and the contest is designed to further increase interest in and sales of the magazine,” Bosley asserted in her complaint “As a direct and foreseeable consequence of these acts, Plaintiffs have been and continue to be damaged.”

Bosley is seeking $1 million in punitive damages, statutory damages of $150,000 for each alleged copyright infringement, damages for violating Bosley’s right of publicity, compensatory damages and all of Bosley’s costs in bringing the action.

Neither Bosley’s attorneys nor counsel for Hustler were available for comment at press time.