Tomelleri v. Taunton Rod and Gun, Inc. d/b/a Bears Den Fly Fishing Company (19-cv-12469).

  • December 9, 2019

Joseph Tomelleri charges Bears [sic] Den, a fly fishing shop, with copyright infringement and false copyright management information, accusing the shop of using his copyrighted fish illustrations without permission. Tomelleri is a biologist/artist who has created more than a thousand illustrations of fresh-water fish which can be seen at his website, He asserts that Bear 2019s Den has reproduced and displayed modified versions of his illustrations, with Tomelleri 2019s copyright management information removed and Bear 2019s Den copyright information substituted in its place. Tomelleri cites the access that his site provides along with the 201cstriking similarity 201d of the illustrations as proof of copying. This type of proof strikes me as problematic, given that Tomelleri 2019s illustrations are in a highly realistic, Audobon Society-type of mold, such that it would be difficult to determine whether an accused illustration is really a derivative of his work as opposed to an independently-created illustration (or, for that matter, a copy or derivative of someone else 2019s independent creation). In addition to this suit, Tomelleri filed three similar suits in Michigan, as well as suits in Arizona, Arkansas, Utah and West Virginia. The Massachusetts case has been assigned to Judge Gorton.

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