Bean v. Pearson Educ., Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright, Implied License
  • Date Filed: 06-11-2013
  • Case #: CV 11-8030-PCT-PGR
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States District Court for the District of Arizona
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81868
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 2564106
  • Full Text Opinion

A structured process of requesting to use copyrighted material does not create an implied license to use those same materials without permission.

Opinion (Rosenblatt): Tom Bean ("Bean") sued Pearson Education, Inc. ("Pearson") for copyright infringement when Pearson printed more of Bean's photographs in their publications than Pearson's license allowed. Pearson had used a number of Bean's pictures in their publications over the years. Bean filed a motion for summary judgment for the copyright infringment claims. The court stated that for a summary judgment claim Bean had to establish (1) ownership of a valid copyright and (2) copying by the defendant of protectable elements of the work. There was no dispute that Bean owned a valid copyright and that the Pearson used the photos. However, Pearson claimed that they had an implied licence to use the photos beyond what they had contracted with Bean. Pearson claimed that because Bean had always given Pearson permission to use his photos (except on one occasion) that they had an implied licence to use the photos. The court disagreed because Pearson had always engaged in a structured process with Bean where Pearson would submit a written request to Bean and Bean would issue a limited license agreement to Pearson to use his photos. Because of that structured process, the court found that there was not an implied licence to use Bean's photos and GRANTED Bean's request for summary judgment.

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