Practice limited to copyright infringement.   Our clients create valuable work.  We protect it.

CONTACT:  info@HARMONseidman.com   |   970.245.9075   | 

About Maurice Harmon

 

Maurice Harmon graduated from the University of Detroit Law School in 1978. Maurice Harmon began his career in Colorado District Attorney’s office. After this, Maurice formed his own law firm and practiced criminal law. In 1988 he started working as a professional photographer. He shot commercial assignments for Rolex, Golfweek, among others. You can learn more about his photography at mauriceharmon.com. Later Maurice Harmon resumed his career as a Attorney. In January 2006, along with Chris Sideman, they formed Harmon & Sideman LLC.

 

Maurice Harmon - Alaska Stock v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Maurice Harmon and their team filed this case in Fairbanks, Alaska because our client was located there. Maurice Harmon travelled to U.S. District Court early in the case to argue against a motion to dismiss filed by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It did not argue that it had not infringed our clients’ images, instead it pursued a technical defense contending our copyright registrations were invalid. Essentially, this publisher asked the court to take away our keys to the courthouse, denying our right to even present our case. The court agreed with the publisher’s white shoe law firm’s argument and dismissed all of Alaska Stock’s claims.

 

We then appealed to the 9th Circuit Court and after extensive briefing, Maurice Harmon returned to Alaska and argued for reversal of the district court’s ruling. A three-judge panel heard our case. When the appeals court finally ruled, it repudiated the publisher’s arguments and reinstated our case in full. The Court directed the lower court to permit us to litigate our case, which settled to our client’s satisfaction shortly thereafter.

 

This 9th Circuit ruling decided for the first time that the kind of group registrations used by our client, Alaska Stock Photography, and done pursuant to directions from the Copyright Office – the agency responsible for copyright registration – were proper. The Court made the point that photographers representatives following the guidance of the governmental agency tasked with registration, should be able to rely upon the agency’s directions. This common sense approach is an example of appeals courts at the best. We often hear of those instances where law conflicts with what appears to be obvious to all, but rarely know of the everyday rulings that make legal and common sense.

 

The ruling in this case reversed two drive-by rulings by U.S. District Courts in Arizona, each of which had followed the original Alaska court holding and refused our clients the keys to the courthouse. And the decision is binding on all of the district courts within the 9th Circuit.

 

Thus, this case and those that followed the same system of Copyright Office approved group registrations, went from no value to full value and were eventually settled to our clients’ satisfaction. We were not about to give up the fight for our photographers following the initial defeats in the lower level courts. We knew in our hearts and understood from our legal knowledge and experience that justice could be done by pursuing these cases to the higher court.

 

One of the great satisfactions of practicing law is to help obtain justice for the little guy against the powerful forces that would otherwise run over them. Law, at its best, is the great equalizer. Houghton Mifflin is a large company. It hired one of the top law firms in the country to try to defeat Alaska Stock’s legitimate claims. Despite the big money powerhouse, individual photographers, banded together and represented by passionate, competent, experienced trial lawyers from a small boutique law firm defeated Goliath. We did so because our legal system, although imperfect, equalizes the playing field and truly can provide justice for all. Read more about Maurice Harmon's case studies.

Read More about Maurice Harmon
Read More about Maurice Harmon

Practice limited to copyright infringement.   Our clients create valuable work.  We protect it.

info@HARMONseidman.com   |   970.245.9075   | 

Read More about Maurice Harmon

 

Maurice Harmon - Alaska Stock v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

 

Maurice Harmon and their team filed this case in Fairbanks, Alaska because our client was located there. Maurice Harmon travelled to U.S. District Court early in the case to argue against a motion to dismiss filed by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It did not argue that it had not infringed our clients’ images, instead it pursued a technical defense contending our copyright registrations were invalid. Essentially, this publisher asked the court to take away our keys to the courthouse, denying our right to even present our case. The court agreed with the publisher’s white shoe law firm’s argument and dismissed all of Alaska Stock’s claims.

 

We then appealed to the 9th Circuit Court and after extensive briefing, Maurice Harmon returned to Alaska and argued for reversal of the district court’s ruling. A three-judge panel heard our case. When the appeals court finally ruled, it repudiated the publisher’s arguments and reinstated our case in full. The Court directed the lower court to permit us to litigate our case, which settled to our client’s satisfaction shortly thereafter.

 

This 9th Circuit ruling decided for the first time that the kind of group registrations used by our client, Alaska Stock Photography, and done pursuant to directions from the Copyright Office – the agency responsible for copyright registration – were proper. The Court made the point that photographers representatives following the guidance of the governmental agency tasked with registration, should be able to rely upon the agency’s directions. This common sense approach is an example of appeals courts at the best. We often hear of those instances where law conflicts with what appears to be obvious to all, but rarely know of the everyday rulings that make legal and common sense.

 

The ruling in this case reversed two drive-by rulings by U.S. District Courts in Arizona, each of which had followed the original Alaska court holding and refused our clients the keys to the courthouse. And the decision is binding on all of the district courts within the 9th Circuit.

 

Thus, this case and those that followed the same system of Copyright Office approved group registrations, went from no value to full value and were eventually settled to our clients’ satisfaction. We were not about to give up the fight for our photographers following the initial defeats in the lower level courts. We knew in our hearts and understood from our legal knowledge and experience that justice could be done by pursuing these cases to the higher court.

 

One of the great satisfactions of practicing law is to help obtain justice for the little guy against the powerful forces that would otherwise run over them. Law, at its best, is the great equalizer. Houghton Mifflin is a large company. It hired one of the top law firms in the country to try to defeat Alaska Stock’s legitimate claims. Despite the big money powerhouse, individual photographers, banded together and represented by passionate, competent, experienced trial lawyers from a small boutique law firm defeated Goliath. We did so because our legal system, although imperfect, equalizes the playing field and truly can provide justice for all. Read more about Maurice Harmon's case studies.

Practice limited to copyright infringement.

Read More about Maurice Harmon

Practice limited to copyright infringement.

info@HARMONseidman.com
970.245.9075  |