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Victor Elias Photography, LLC v. Ice Portal, Inc.

In 2016, commercial photographer Victor Elias discovered infringing uses of his copyrighted images on the internet. Instead of pursuing the infringing parties, Mr. Elias brought a lawsuit against Ice Portal, Inc. – now a division of Shiji (US), Inc. (“Shiji”) – which acts as an intermediary between the hotels that licensed Mr. Elias’s photographs and online travel agents (“OTAs”) like Expedia and Travelocity. In optimizing the photographs for use by the OTAs, Shiji’s software allegedly removed certain copyright-related information that Mr. Elias had embedded within the metadata of the photographs. Mr. Elias, through his company Victor Elias Photography, LLC (“Elias LLC”), claimed that Shiji therefore violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). The district court correctly granted summary judgment to Shiji because Elias LLC did not show an essential element of its claim – namely, that Shiji knew, or had reasonable grounds to know, that its actions would induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal a copyright infringement. Accordingly, we affirm.

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