South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Electronic Publication of Copyrighted Materials without Permission Is Infringement
Description

Trial court held that for a website to publish electronic versions of copyrighted material is infringement and must be halted. The court also held that the copyrights could not be asserted to have been abandoned under the doctrine of adverse possession.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

Copyright, Infringement, Electronic Publication, Adverse Possession

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Advance Magazine Publishers owns more than 500 book-length stories that were published in the 1930s and 1940s in pulp fiction serial magazines, such as The Shadow. Leach owns the websites Blackmask and Smartset, through which he displays or offers for distribution electronic copies and reprints of Advance's publications. Leach scanned the magazines into electronic forms for distribution on his websites. Advance sued for copyright infringement. Leach claimed Advance had abandoned the copyrights and he could claim them by adverse possession. Parties moved for judgments in their favor.

Decision

The doctrine of adverse possession does not apply to copyrights, as copyright law is federal and adverse possession is a state law doctrine. Federal copyright law controls this matter. Copyright did not transfer from Advance to Leach when he converted the publications to electronic form. His action is infringement and a preliminary injunction is issued against further publication.

Citation

Advance Magazine Publishers, Inc. v. Leach, ---F.Supp.2d--- (2006 WL 3716373, D. Maryland, 2006)

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