In a Nutshell
*A Massachusetts decorated-apparel shop was using thousands of stock images without paying a licensing fee.
*As part of a settlement agreement, the shop owner was forced to apologize for the theft.
Great Dane Graphics recently settled a copyright infringement case with a Massachusetts-based decorated-apparel shop accused of stealing thousands of production-ready images from the stock art company.
Back in January, Great Dane filed a complaint in Massachusetts District Court against Jonathan Gosselin, owner of Vovo Inc., for the “wholesale duplication and subsequent uploading onto various websites of thousands of valuable graphic images.”
Gosselin opened Vovo, which stands for “Veteran Owned and Operated,” in 2017, after working at a nearby screen-printing shop, American Reflective in Braintree, MA, for four years. Danielle George, owner of American Reflective, discovered that Gosselin had stolen digital images licensed from Great Dane Graphics before quitting, according to court documents. Gosselin uploaded the images to his own site and to his eBay store without paying for licensing, George testified. The theft was reported to Braintree police in April 2017, and George contacted Great Dane about the issue in November 2017. According to George, the image theft was adversely affecting American Reflective’s profits because Vovo was able to sell products “at a substantial discount to what I can offer as an authorized licensee of the images.”
In addition to stealing Great Dane images, Gosselin “went so far as to copy the selection, arrangement and coordination of Great Dane’s images,” according to court documents. Vovo Inc. also used the same numbering system Great Dane developed for its images, according to the complaint.
In the original complaint, Great Dane asked for Vovo Inc. to stop using unauthorized images online, on products and in marketing, and that Vovo deliver all unauthorized products, design files and any screens or other decorating supplies using the unlicensed images to Great Dane for destruction. The complaint also asked for damages of up to $150,000 for each copyrighted property infringed on.
The copyright case was dismissed June 28 after Great Dane and Vovo Inc. reached an amicable settlement. Though Great Dane did not disclose all the details of the settlement, the company noted that Gosselin was required to apologize as part of the agreement.
“I stole Great Dane’s designs and used them as my own,” Gosselin said in a Great Dane press release. “Posting Great Dane’s portfolio online combined with my failure to pay the requisite license fees harmed Great Dane and its paying customers, as well as its artists. My actions were both illegal and immoral, and I apologize for my conduct.”