First a little background. Melissa Hovey released the alleged Bigfoot photo way back in February of 2012. She clearly stated that she did not own the photo and issued an ultimatum to the real owner to come forward, the real owner did not and expressed clearly to Hovey that he/she wished to remain anonymous. Melissa clearly stated both in blog posts and on podcasts that the photo was not hers and she only claimed copyright to "protect" the author of said photo.
Shortly after the release of the photo Phil Poling, on his old SuperSoylent youtube channel, posted a video that removed Hovey's copyright and replaced it with his own, it was clearly a parody and Mr. Poling was trying to point out that Melissa could not own copyright to that photo since she openly admitted that it did not belong to her.
Fast forward to the lawsuit, I wont go into details about the suit as others have done a great job in that area already, Matt Knapp in particular and you should check out his blog for all those details. Suffice it to say Hovey was wrong, it can be spun however she likes it but she is wrong. She can not claim copyright on this photo, never could. Whether or not the photo belongs to Karl Kozak or not, the fact remains that Hovey NEVER had ownership of the photo.
§ 202.3 Registration of copyright.(a) General. (1) This section prescribes conditions for the registration of copyright, and the application to be made for registration under sections 408 and 409 of title 17 of the United States Code, as amended by Pub. L. 94-553.
(2) For the purposes of this section, the terms audiovisual work , compilation , copy , derivative work , device , fixation , literary work , motion picture , phonorecord , pictorial, graphic and sculptural works , process , sound recording , and their variant forms, have the meanings set forth in section 101 of title 17. The term author includes an employer or other person for whom a work is “made for hire” under section 101 of title 17.
(3) For the purposes of this section, a copyright claimant is either:
(i) The author of a work;
(ii) A person or organization that has obtained ownership of all rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author. 1
1 This category includes a person or organization that has obtained, from the author or from an entity that has obtained ownership of all rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author, the contractual right to claim legal title to the copyright in an application for copyright registration.
So, we see here that Ms. Hovey CAN NOT claim copyright because, by her own admission, she is not the author of the work nor have ANY ownership rights been transferred to her. An open and shut case in my book and aparently in the courts eyes too.
So what does this all boil down to? Melissa Hovey, either out of spite, or out of a severe faulty understanding of the law took an innocent man to court over something she did not own and he had every right to use under the fair use law. Mr. Poling, I assume, is out a boat load of cash defending himself against a lawsuit that never should have been. I don't care what you think about Melissa Hovey, she was wrong and even a cursory examination of the law would have made that apparent. I don't know who her Attorney was but they seemingly had no clue what copyright law is or they would have advised her to never file the suit. I don't care what you think about Phil Poling, he was right, he was right from the beginning and he was right in the end, maybe some of his statements were not appropriate, and I believe that's what really what enraged Melissa, but he was spot on about copyright law from the very start.
It's no secret that Melissa is a friend of mine, it is also no secret that Phil is too. I assume after this article goes public, one of those friends may no longer wish to remain that way. My intentions are not to bash anyone but to point out FACTS. Melissa always told me she wanted the truth out there and the truth is that the photo never was hers to claim and she took an innocent man to court over a grudge. That is a sad state of affairs.
Christopher York said it best in the Facebook group The Squatchers Lounge:
yes everyone lets just let this be and continue to be lemmings. We should never ever look at how messed up our legal system is. We should allow [Hovey] to claim copyright on whatever they want, and never question anything after the fact. Because we never ever go back through history to look at court decisions, right? Yes the court did rule and that ruling should be looked at because of what it says about the state of affairs in this community. Self righteous egos are what this community is full of. People who believe because they have been on TV or a documentary that they are justified in whatever they say or do. Now lets look at what Hovey is saying, you know besides the fact that she acts like this is a big surprise to her.... Oh yeah she just wanted the truth about the picture... BS! She wanted someone to pay for her feelings getting hurt. PERIOD! And the sad part is she wasted your taxes and tied up the courts with this ignorant waste of time lawsuit that did nothing more than force someone else to have to defend himself for something he never should have had to defend. So yeah lets just move on and be complacent and leave the community as it is. BLIND!