An antique-style map of a Caribbean island is at the centre of a copyright infringement dispute between mapmaker Victor Baker and Penguin Random House, Netflix and Amazon Technologies.
On Thursday, January 2, Baker filed a suit at the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, accusing Penguin Random House (which does business as Random House Films) of infringing the copyright of a map of Curacao shown in several scenes “Lay the Favorite”, a 2012 film starring Bruce Willis.
Baker also named Amazon Technologies (which does business as Amazon Prime) and Netflix as defendants in the suit, as they have allegedly distributed the infringement.
Part of the film “Lay the Favorite”, which also stars Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones, is based on Curacao, an island 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela.
“Plaintiff’s map of Curacao is displayed prominently in several scenes, tacked to the wall of the office in which gambling operations take place … In this regard, the map plays a significant role in the movie, emphasising the storyline that the characters have located their gambling operation in Curacao,” said the claim.
Doing business as One Treasure, Baker creates antique-style, watercolour maps of the Caribbean islands and other locations and sells these to tourists.
Baker alleged that the defendants’ infringement was wilful—he said that Random House Films should have known that he owned the map from the contact information in its bottom-left corner, because his contact information is visible in the still images from the movie.
“Random House Films is in the film business, is very aware of the need to obtain clearance from owners of IP used in their films, and, yet, wholly failed to attempt to do so. For said wilful infringement, plaintiff is entitled to recover up to $150,000,” added the suit.
Baker has also requested that Random House Penguin, Netflix and Amazon should be permanently enjoined from distributing the film with scenes displaying the map. He claimed that it is an “inadequate remedy at law for defendants’ continuing infringement of the maps, even following an award of damages in this case”.