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January 29, 2024

By: Thomas S. Vangel and James F. Radke

For this month's issue of Massachusetts Auto Dealer, litigation partners Tom Vangel and Jamie Radke remind automotive dealerships of the importance of complying with federal copyright law.

To underscore how dealerships can be affected by copyright law, the article details a recent decision where the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled against a Chevy dealership that was sued by the owner of a copyright for a viral video the dealership reposted on its Facebook page.

The Court ruled against the dealership because it found that it stood to profit from the exploitation of the copyrighted video due to the commercial nature of the Facebook post and found that the dealership's use of the video would undermine the copyright holder's licensing scheme and harm the market for the video.

Many other Chevy dealerships faced lawsuits from the same company after also sharing the video to their social media pages. These cases serve as important reminders that dealers must be careful to avoid copyright infringements in connection with their social media and marketing efforts.

Another area where dealerships could face copyright issues is with their showroom entertainment such as music or movies. Under copyright laws, dealers are not able to show copyrighted movies or play copyrighted music without a license from the copyright owner.

The article explains other copyright laws that are important for dealers to know in order to avoid copyright infringement and the significant penalties that come with it such as damages, injunctions and associated fees such as attorney's fees and court costs.

Read the full article.

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