District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan
Under a November 1995 contract Cooley created two sculptures of dinosaur eggs for the National Geographic Society (NGS). Under his Dec. 24, 1995, contract with NGS, Psihoyos photographed the sculptures for publication in “National Geographic” magazine. Under their contracts, Cooley and Psihoyos transferred copyrights in their works to NGS, with the copyrights to be assigned to them at different times after publication. Psihoyos later licensed the photographs for various uses and received royalties therefor. Cooley first learned of Psihoyos’s licensing activity in October 2011, and would have brought action against Psihoyos earlier had Psihoyos’s activity come to his attention. Striking affirmative defenses of statute of limitations, equitable estoppel, and laches, the court ruled that Psihoyos directly and contributorily infringed on Cooley’s copyrights in the sculptures since 1997. Psihoyos’s copyrights in his photographs—derivative works prepared on the basis of the sculptures—extended only to his original contributions. Because they were inextricably intertwined with Cooley’s copyrights in his sculptures, Psihoyos’s ability to exploit his own rights to the photographs absent Cooley’s consent was virtually nonexistent.