It only took a few minutes. Rich Miller had no case and the judge told him so.
Shortly after high noon on Tuesday May 20, 2014 Sweden Police Justice Mark Depferd dismissed the lawsuit Rich Miller had filed in Sweden Town Court alleging unauthorized use of a photograph by this writer.
Judge Depferd opened the proceedings in the Honorable William J. Cody courtroom by saying that he normally asks both parties to state their case, but that he wasn’t going to do that in this case because the Town Court has no jurisdiction to award the kind of damages Rich Miller was seeking.
He also noted that while Miller was seeking damages, he had provided no information about what kind of damages he had suffered because of the alleged unauthorized use of the photograph.
The judge then gave an example of the kind of damages the town court can award. He said the town court can award property damages to cover the cost of repairing a car that had been in an automobile accident. But it cannot award personal damages for any injuries suffered in that same accident.
Judge Depferd then told Rich Miller that, if he wanted to, he could file suit in New York State Supreme Court in Rochester.
At that point, Miller mumbled something about having suffered damages and theft, but the judge was having none of that.
Judge Depferd even mentioned that the amount of damages claimed by Rich Miller seemed to be totally arbitrary and based solely on the $3,000 limit on damages that can be awarded in Small Claims Court.
When the hearing was over, Rich Miller was so angry as he walked out of the courtroom that you could almost see the steam rising off the top of his bald head.
The court hearing was over so quickly, that there wasn’t even any discussion of the merit or lack of merit in Rich Miller’s allegation.
Miller had filed a Small Claim in Sweden Justice Court on April 21, 2014 alleging that this writer had, “…used an image that belongs to Mr. Miller on his Internet Blog without permission or compensation.”
Miller asked for $3,000 in damages, together with cost of $15.00 (the filing fee).
Rich Miller even misspelled my name in the complaint.
Miller was not represented by an attorney at today’s hearing, and it seems obvious that Rich Miller had never bothered to consult an attorney about his claim.
Section 107 covers the Fair Use of copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, comment, and news reporting.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
The Fair Use provisions of Section 107 are what allow news organizations of all kinds to use copyrighted materials, especially photographs and quotes.
Those provisions are what allow Google News to display a photograph and a short summary of the stories they feature on Google News.
For example, on May 20, 2014 the Google News Top Stories web page included photographs from the Christian Science Monitor, Business Week, the New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, BBC News, SFGate, Reuters, Fox News, CNN, NADAQ, PCWorld, the Washington Post, GameSpot, Daily Mail, USA TODAY, and the Los Angeles Times.
Rich Miller also seemed to be totally unaware of Examiner.com's strict policy on using only legally obtained photos in articles.
Now it’s up to Rich Miller to decide what he wants to do next. But if he chooses to file suit in New York Supreme Court he would be well advised to consult with an attorney first.
It’s a different ball game in Supreme Court. To start with, the filing fee in Supreme Court is $200, and he’ll also have to pay an attorney (if he can find one willing to take the case.
Moreover, in Supreme Court, Miller will have to pay court fees if the court finds that he has filed a frivolous lawsuit, which it just might do, since he has failed to show what, if any law has been broken, and what, if any, damages he has sustained.
It seems like a clear cut case of harassment by Rich Miller. He hasn’t forgotten that back on June 15, 2010 I was the person who challenged his right to vote in Village of Brockport elections when he didn’t live in the village.
But at least Rich Miller used his real address (16729 Lakeland Beach Road, Kendall, NY) when he filed the Small Claim. At least he has stopped claiming that he lives in the empty old Fowler Funeral Home building on State Street, as he did during the 2010 election.