Olan Mills, Inc. v. Linn Photo Co.
23 F.3d 1345 (8th Cir. 1994)

  • Mills was a professional photographer who suspected that Linn was reproducing his photographs. He sent in a private investigator with four photographs clearly labeled with a . The investigator asked Linn to make copies, which Linn did.
    • Linn requires the investigator to sign a form saying he was the rightful copyright holder, but they didn't check to see if he was lying.
  • Mills sued Linn for copyright infringement.
  • The Trial Court found for Linn. Mills appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the investigator swore he was the owner. That was all Linn needed to do.
  • The Appellate Court reversed.
    • The Appellate Court found that Linn knew (or should have known) that the photographs were under copyright. The form they made the investigator sign wasn't sufficient to indemnify them from liability.
    • The Court found that under 17 U.S.C. 502, Linn was enjoined from ever making unathorized copies of any of Mills' work in the future.
      • That included both registered as well as unregistered works. It included the works at issue in this case (the four photographs) as well as any other works Mills made.