South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Publisher of Magazine Has Right to Reproduce Old Issues Electronically

Appeals court held that the publisher of a magazine was privileged to reproduce the magazine in a digitized format that faithfully reproduced previous issues. This reproduction did not violate the copyrights of photographers who contributed photos to the original magazine.

Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words

Copyright; Infringement; Magazine; Photographs; Privilege

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Greenberg provided photographs for four articles that appeared in different issues of the National Geographic magazine. Past issues of the magazine were digitized and sold on CD-ROM sets that showed all previous issues. Greenberg sued, contending republication of his photographs in that format without his permission was infringement. The jury found there to be willful infringement and awarded the maximum damages allowed, $100,000 per incident, for $400,000 total damages. The magazine appealed.


Reversed and remanded. The electronic reproduction of the magazine was privileged revision of the original works. Similarly, a computer program that allows a user to search the electronic collection of articles and photographs is privileged revision of the copyrighted works. The collection contained exact images of the original works; the publisher had the right to republish the magazine in this format.


Greenberg v. National Geographic Society, 488 F.3d 1331 (11th Cir., 2007)

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