Judge: Lawyer must pay $22k in Indy skyline photo suit

A McCordsville lawyer and photographer who wrongly sued a man he claimed violated his copyright by posting a photo of the Indianapolis skyline on a website must pay more than $22,000 in legal fees, a federal judge has ruled.

The ruling that Richard Bell pay $22,289.65 to defendant Charles Lantz is a final order issued last week by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Pratt previously ordered Bell to pay nearly $34,000 in legal fees, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the award reduced.

Bell has filed copyright infringement suits against hundreds of people who used his photos of the Indianapolis skyline without first paying a fee. He claims he’s asserting his rights of ownership in the image; defendants label him a copyright troll.

After Bell mistakenly named Lantz in a suit, the defendant and his counsel, Paul Overhauser, countersued. They succeeded in winning fees for what Pratt described as Bell “using his knowledge and status as a practicing attorney to file meritless suits and to attempt to outmaneuver the legal system.” But Bell was successful in arguing on appeal that Overhauser’s requested fees were too high.

According to Southern District case records, Bell has at least a dozen active cases alleging copyright violation associated with his skyline photos.

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