Duffy Archive Limited v. Gilt Groupe, LP (D. Mass. 21-cv-10997).

  • June 16, 2021

Celebrity photographer Brian Duffy registered the copyright in a photograph of musician David Bowie with a blue and red lightning bolt painted on his face.  The photograph appears on the cover of Bowie’s 1973 “Aladdin Sane” album.  Duffy Archive says that Duffy transferred the rights in the photograph to it in May 2010, shortly before Duffy’s death.  Duffy Archive says that Gilt Groupe displayed a “substantially similar copy” of the photograph on its website, www.gilt.com. Gilt is a members-only website that offers for sale different products for limited periods of time.  The work in question, offered for sale by Gilt in September 2020, is a canvas print of the “Aladdin Sane” album cover reworked into a graphic form with different colors. 

Jurisdiction is asserted to be proper in Massachusetts because Gilt is alleged to have offices in Boston, although it is unclear whether Gilt is actually in Massachusetts or whether its corporate parent, Ru La La, whose corporate headquarters is at the address listed for Gilt.

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