Curtis v. Illumination Arts, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Wilfulness
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2013
  • Case #: C 12-0991JLR
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court, Western District of Washington
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76183

The Copyright Act provides an additional damage remedy if a plaintiff can show that the infringement was wilfull.

Opinion (Robart): Chara Curtis, Cynthia Aldrich, and Alfred Currier (“Curtis, Aldrich and Currier”) wrote and illustrated children’s books entitled Fun is a Feeling, All I See Is Part of Me, and How Far to Heaven? (collectively, “the books”). Curtis, Aldrich and Currier sued Illumination Arts, Inc. (“IAI”), with whom they had entered into a publishing contract for the books. When IAI failed to pay royalties to Curtis, Aldrich and Currier, they terminated the publishing contracts, but not before IAI had made electronic copies of the books available on BigUniverse.com and posted the books on Google Books. The contracts did not license digital rights for the Books. After the termination of the contracts, IAI continued making copies of, distributing, and displaying the books online and at trade shows. Curtis, Aldrich and Currier sought partial summary judgment on several issues, including infringement and willfulness. Curtis, Aldrich and Currier also sought an order permanently enjoining the IAI from reproducing, distributing, or displaying the books. In terms of willfulness, the Copyright Act provides an additional damage remedy if a plaintiff can show that infringement of his or her right is willful. Willfulness can be found either through intentional or reckless behavior. In the case at hand, defendant neither cited to nor offered any evidence in contravention to plaintiffs’ assertions of willfulness. Accordingly, the court GRANTED Curtis, Aldrich and Currier's motions for summary judgment because IAI willfully infringed Curtis, Aldrich and Currier's rights. IAI also offered no opposition to the imposition of a permanent injunction. As such, the court ENJOINED IAI from continued infringement and ordered IAI to return to plaintiffs all infringing copies of the books, as well as all means of reproducing the books.

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