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Recently, Brenke took on corporate giant, Airbnb, and obtained a very favorable settlement in a large copyright infringement dispute on behalf of international photographer Jiayi Wang.  Not only is this a win for Wang, but this is a win against corporations who believe they can wield their strength of deep pockets against the small business owners and creatives who are simply striving to make a living.


What happened?

Wang, a United Kingdom-based travel photographer with over 100,000 followers on Instagram (check out her amazing account here), initially discovered several of her carefully-created and aesthetically-curated photographs being used by Airbnb through mass distribution and marketing to no less than seven (7) other known sources, all of which used her photographs without permission or proper attribution.   Yes, this is multiple images on multiple platforms, without her permission. 


Brenke vigorously advocated for Wang’s intellectual property rights through negotiations with Airbnb over several months and sought fair compensation for Wang from Airbnb for its alleged copyright infringement. It is with her invested interest in her photographs and our Firm’s expertise we were able to receive a favorable compensation for these infringing actions.


With the expertise and knowledge of the circumstances, the parties were able to expeditiously and amicably resolve the matter and Airbnb paid Wang a favorable undisclosed amount for its unauthorized commercial use and dissemination of her photographs with erroneous attribution across multiple digital platforms to potentially millions of viewers.  As lead counsel, Brenke worked intimately with Airbnb’s lawyer, an attorney who boasts other corporate giant representations such as Instagram.  Her finesse, knowledge and advocacy lead to a successful and happy result for Wang.  We are pleased that Airbnb was willing to come to the table and discuss the shortcomings of their actions and Wang was not forced to pursue a federal copyright infringement suit.


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The other day I asked if you guys would prefer to see a mix of different places on my feed or just Turkey first. I actually counted your votes and “a mix” won by quite a lot! ??? Not only that, quite a few of you also mentioned that you’d especially like to see more of Uzbekistan ?? . …Which doesn’t surprise me one bit because even though I went there back in May, not a day goes by where I don’t reminisce about this surreally magical country that completely stole my heart ? . What’s even more crazy is that months prior to going there, I never even thought of it as a travel destination. It was just “one of the Stans” to me. But after spending 10 incredible days there, I can honestly say that it’s one of the most breathtaking, unreal, interesting and remarkable places I’ve ever visited (it’s one of my top 3 favourites out of the 50+ countries I’ve been to) ? . If you’re interested to learn more about Uzbekistan, I have a travel guide in the link in my bio ??? I also wrote another article focused on why you should visit and you can find it in my “Articles” Story Highlight ✈️ . And to those of you who wanted to see Turkey first – don’t worry loves, I will be alternating between different countries so you’ll still get to see plenty of Istanbul & Cappadocia ? . I’m curious, what’s been your favourite trip so far this year? ? . . . . #travelguide #lonelyplanet #awesomepix #lpfanphoto #awesomeglobe #voyaged #passionpassport #bestplacestogo #blondesandcookies #stayandwander #girlsdreamtravel #speechlessplaces #lovetheworld #beautifuldestinations #darlingescapes #tlpicks #artofvisuals #travelstyle #welivetoexplore #travelingtheworld #backpackwithme #living_destinations #wonderful_places #travelawesome #beautifulmatters #instravel #lensbible #sheisnotlost #dametraveler

A post shared by ❀ JIAYI ❀ Travel & Adventure (@thediaryofanomad) on

Why is this important?

Photographs, like many other photographers,  are the physical product that provides Wang’s livelihood.  Without photographs, including the control of distribution, they would be rendered fairly worthless.  In the United States, we have copyright laws that protect intellectual property creators.   This is important for any business that is using visual imagery, text, audio, video, etc. in the course of their business, whether they are selling the actual intellectual property item or not.  For example, many of you use photographs to market products or services.  If someone else comes along and uses the photograph without permission, they are riding on your financial resources and becoming a recipient of commercial gain through an illegal act.


Not only was this a great lesson for the infringing parties, but it can be helpful for your position as a business owner as well.  Never use photographs, or any other intellectual property, without the express permission of the intellectual property rights holder. Our recommendation is for all permissions to be in writing and specifically identifying permissions of use. And if you don’t have it, don’t use the photograph.


How can I get help?

If you are an individual or entity creating works protected by United States Copyright Act (including music, text, photographs, logos, software, movies, video games, and other works), take the steps to properly register your works with the United States Copyright Office so that you have the strength of a statutory damages claim and demand for attorney’s fees on the table.  Luckily, Wang took the steps to properly register her photographs and was afforded the full strength and benefits of a registered copyright holder.

We are proud of Jiayi for standing up for her rights – you should do it too!


This case was originally worked by Rachel Brenke at Connors & Brenke PLLC.

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