South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Copying Computer Program on Workstations Linked Together Is Infringement
Description Appeals court held that for a commercial user of a copyrighted program to make many copies of a licensed program for workstations linked together constituted infringement as it damaged the market for the program.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Copyright, Infringement, Software
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bought 3,663 licenses to Wall Data’s software, but installed it on 6,007 computers. While the software was on more computers than were licensed, the computers were configured such that the total number of workstations able to access the installed software did not exceed the total number of licenses. The district court held this to be infringement. The buyer appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The loading of the program on to computers and copying the program was commercial use. The program was not owned by defendant, who only obtained licenses to use a certain number of copies. The copying did not promote advancement of public knowledge and arts, or provide the marketplace with new creative works. It was not fair use. Another factor in favor of plaintiff is that the copying was of the entire copyrighted work, not just a piece of it. The effect of such large scale copying could seriously impact the market for the developer’s product.

Citation Wall Data Inc. v. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., 447 F.3d 769 (9th Cir., 2006)

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