Judge dismisses suit over ‘To the Contrary’ content

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A copyright infringement lawsuit over content in a segment that aired on public TV’s To the Contrary has been dismissed.

A publicist and producer filed suit in April against PBS and a surrogacy firm. The report contained video shot in India that Crystal Travis, owner of World of Surrogacy in Laurel, Md., presented to program producers as her own. Publicist Wendy Wheaton and camera operator Tommy Phipps Sr., who accompanied Travis to India, said the content belonged to them.

The May 2013 segment allegedly used “at least 17 instances” of copyrighted videos or photographs, according to the lawsuit. Wheaton and Phipps had sought statutory damages of $2.55 million, or $150,000 per infringement.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Central California, Travis, Wheaton and Phipps settled their disagreement out of court. Last week a judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be resubmitted.

“We got stuck in the middle of a dispute,” said Bonnie Erbé, host of To the Contrary. The weekly news-analysis show features an all-female panel.

The dismissal “means we did nothing wrong and PBS did nothing wrong,” she added.