Federal District Court Finds Valid Agreement under ESIGN Based on Upload of Images in Accordance with Website Terms of Use

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On November 13, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland held that uploaded pictures to a website disclosing in its Terms of Use (TOU) that uploading images creates valid assignments of the rights to use those images were electronic signatures creating valid assignments. Metro. Reg’l Info. Sys., Inc. v. Am. Home Realty Network, Inc., No. 12-cv-00954 (D. Md. Nov. 13, 2012). The plaintiff had obtained a preliminary injunction against the defendant’s use of images that appeared on the plaintiff’s website, and the defendant appealed the injunction, arguing, inter alia, that no valid assignment of the images had occurred under Section 204(a) of the Copyright Act, which requires assignments to be in writing and signed by the assignor. Citing Section 101(a) of the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), the court found that users’ acts of uploading images constituted electronic signatures sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Copyright Act. The court thus denied the defendant’s motion to suspend the preliminary injunction.