Floyd Webb successfully defeated William Aguiar’s motion for a preliminary injunction last Friday at a hearing before Judge Wolf in the Massachusetts District Court in Boston. Reading his opinion from the bench, Judge Wolf held that Plaintiff Aguiar had not shown that he was likely to succeed on his copyright infringement claim, even assuming he could prove ownership of the allegedly infringed works, because Webb has demonstrated a likelihood of success on his fair use defense.
Judge Wolf found that Webb’s use of Count Dante photographs and video footage in the film trailers for his upcoming documentary is a transformative use, and that there is no evidence of harm to any market for Plaintiff's allegedly copyrighted works. The Court went on to note that denial of the preliminary injunction furthers the public’s interest in learning about the life of Count Dante, as well as promotes the creative process the Copyright Act is intended to protect.
In addition, the Court ordered Plaintiff Aguiar to file an amended complaint by March 14, 2008 clearly stating the factual and legal bases for each of his claims against Webb.
The ruling is a great victory for Floyd Webb, and another important precedent for documentary filmmakers. Stay tuned for further developments.