Sylvia Scott Gibson et al v. Amazon.com

Filing 142

ORDER by Judge Otis D Wright, II: Granting Defendants Pacific Lutheran University, Amazon.com and Urban Dictionary LLC MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION 103 , 104 , 109 AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS MOTION 128 . (lc) Modified on 9/9/2011 (lc).

Download PDF
1 O 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 8 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 9 WESTERN DIVISION 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 ED SYLVIA SCOTT GIBSON, et al., ) ) ) Plaintiffs, ) vs. ) ) AMAZON.COM, et al., ) ) Defendants. ) ___________________________________ ) I. CASE NO. CV 11-0021-ODW (DTBx) ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY ADJUDICATION [103, 104, 109] AND DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ [128] INTRODUCTION 18 This action concerns Plaintiff Sylvia Scott Gibson’s self-published 1991 book 19 Latawnya, The Naughty Horse, Learns to Say “No” to Drugs. Defendants Pacific Lutheran 20 University (“PLU”), Amazon.com and Urban Dictionary LLC now move separately for 21 summary judgment arguing, among other things, they are not liable for copyright 22 infringement. (See Docket Nos. 103, 104, 109.) Although Plaintiff filed opposition briefs, 23 these motions remain largely unopposed. (See Docket Nos. 107, 108, 128.) After 24 considering the parties’ briefs, the court finds this matter suitable for decision without oral 25 argument. See Local Rule 7-15. 26 27 28 As discussed below, Defendants’ motions are GRANTED. 1 II. DISCUSSION 2 Pacific Lutheran University’s Motion (Docket No. 103.) 3 PLU offers three undisputed facts. First, the web pages which Plaintiff challenges 4 were not real. (UF 1) (“They were created by three PLU students as a final team project in 5 Professor Robinson’s Spring 2007 Publishing Procedures Class (English 312). Each team 6 was to create a Web site for an imaginary publishing house featuring real books. The 7 books were not part of the reading for the class, but were just used to create the Web site 8 project.”). Second, “[n]one of these books were actually offered for sale on the Web site.” 9 (UF 2) (“The fake ordering form does not actually do anything.”). And finally, those 10 responsible for the web pages not only never utilized them commercially but had actually 11 forgotten about them until Plaintiff filed this action. 12 PLU neither published nor sold the book. And, insofar as the students used a photo 13 of the cover, they may do so under the doctrine of fair use. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. 14 Amazon.com, Inc., 487 F.3d 701, 719-20 (9th Cir. 2007). Here, the use was clearly 15 educational and nonprofit. The students merely made a thumbnail image of the cover of 16 the book. And, since the book has been out of publication since 1990-and PLU students’ 17 use of the book was not disparaging-there cannot be any negative impact on the value of 18 the work. As for the fraud claim, it suffices to note that Plaintiff fails to raise a genuine 19 issue as to either personal reliance or damages. PLU’s motion is accordingly GRANTED. 20 Amazon.com’s Motion (Docket No. 104.) 21 Amazon.com makes an equally compelling showing. To begin, Amazon.com has 22 neither published nor sold the book. (UF 1.) “The only sales of the Latawnya book on 23 Amazon.com’s Web site have been 35 used copies sold by third-party sellers. (UF 2.) 24 Plaintiff’s opposition offers no evidence to the contrary, and these third-party sales are 25 legal and proper under the First Sale Rule, which allows a person to freely resell a 26 previously-purchased book as he or she wishes. See 17 U.S.C. § 109; see also 27 Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, 210 U.S. 339, 350-51 (1908). 28 2 1 Amazon.com also moves for, and the court enters summary judgment as to several 2 other alleged violations. Among other things, Amazon.com is not liable for selling “birth 3 names” or for allegedly entering “the Latawnya book into porn.” These allegations, much 4 like Plaintiff’s claim for fraud, are completely without support. 5 Urban Dictionary’s Motion (Docket No. 109.) 6 “Plaintiffs claims against Urban Dictionary also fail. “An unknown Urban 7 Dictionary user posted a dictionary entry for the term “Latawnya the Naughty Horse” 8 sometime prior to November 23, 2010.” (Mot at 4.) Urban Dictionary did not create the 9 dictionary entry, did not edit the entry, and had no actual knowledge of the entry prior to 10 receiving a cease and desist notice from Plaintiffs on November 23, 2010. (Id.)(“Despite 11 [ ] deficiencies in Mrs. Gibson’s notice, Urban Dictionary complied with her takedown 12 request on November 29, 2010.”). 13 In short, because Urban Dictionary is an online service provider appropriately 14 registered under and in full compliance with the statutory requirements of the Digital 15 Millennium Copyright Act’s safe-harbor provision for online service providers, and 16 because Urban Dictionary acted expeditiously to remove the allegedly infringing content 17 (despite Plaintiffs’ failure to provide proper notification of claimed infringement), Urban 18 Dictionary cannot be liable to Plaintiff. Urban Dictionary’s motion for summary judgment 19 is therefore GRANTED. 20 Plaintiffs’ Motion [128] 21 Along with her husband, James E. Gibson, Plaintiff appears to have misidentified 22 the opposition to Urban Dictionary’s motion as their own motion for summary judgment. 23 To the extent Plaintiff intended to file such a motion, it is hereby DENIED. 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 28 3 1 III. CONCLUSION 2 Plaintiff demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts, the Internet, and the law. 3 PLU, Amazon.com and Urban Dictionary’s motions for summary judgment are 4 GRANTED. Plaintiff’s motion is DENIED. 5 6 SO ORDERED 7 September 8, 2011 8 9 10 _________________________ OTIS D. WRIGHT II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4