Friday, January 22, 2010

Court Refuses to Enforce Take-Down Injunction Against Website

USA: A federal district court in Illinois has ruled in David Blockowicz, et al., v. Joseph David Williams, et al., that a website is not required to remove defamatory remarks despite an injunction against the persons who posted the remarks on the site. Wishing to avoid the immunity provision of the CDA, the plaintiffs sued the actual authors of the defamatory remarks rather than the websites that posted the remarks. The court issued an injunction requiring the plaintiffs to remove the remarks, but the plaintiffs were unable to contact the defendants. The plaintiffs therefore moved for third-party enforcement of the injunction against the website, But the court was unpersuaded that the website – despite Terms of Service that included a copyright claim to all posted comments, a statement that comments would never be removed, and an indemnification clause – should be considered an aider and abettor of the defamatory remarks, and therefore refused to enforce the injunction against it.

© Copyright 2010 Steptoe & Johnson LLP

UK: Court reject copyright infringement and breach of confidence

The High Court has rejected a claim by a computer games designer, Mr Burrows, that a director of a company called Circle Studio Limited (Circle) which had previously employed him, had infringed copyright in a game called "Traktrix" which Mr Burrows had proposed to them, or breached confidence, by trying to exploit a substantially revised version of the game. Norris J found that there was no breach of confidence because the proposal for "Traxtrix" was not disclosed in circumstances importing an obligation of confidence; in disclosing the idea to Circle, Mr Burrows was doing what he was paid to do as a games designer, and there was no evidence that he told Circle that it was an idea that he had thought up before joining Circle. Norris J rejected the copyright claim because, among other things, Mr Burrows argued that Circle had copied significant parts of his original document recording the concept for the game in a later design document relating to it. However, since nobody at Circle knew of the original document, if the design document incorporated parts of it, it was because Mr Burrows himself incorporated them. This was not a grant of an implied licence by Mr Burrows, but a unilateral act requiring no agreement on Circle's part.