Skip to main content
Copyright Blog

Do the Words "Copyright Suit" Ring a Bell?

Dr. Keith Bell has filed another suit for an unauthorized use of his "Winning Isn't Normal" Passage

On February 24, 2022, Dr. Keith Bell ("Bell") filed suit against the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, Milwaukee Public Schools, and Shon Haralson—an employee of the school system (collectively "MPS"). The suit centers on a passage ("the WIN Passage"), from Bell's motivational book, Winning Isn't Normal (the "Book"). Bell claims copyright in the Book but also separately in the WIN Passage itself, and included copyright registrations for both as exhibits to his Complaint.

The Complaint alleges that Dave Poltrock ("Poltrock"), an employee of MPS, shared the WIN Passage (in the form of a photograph of a crumpled print-out of the passage) on his Twitter account in 2015 and again in 2017. The Complaint implies that Poltrock made the post in his capacity as an MPS employee, and screenshots of the posts are included with the Complaint as exhibits.

Bell states that he "provided notice to the MPS [ ] in 2018 and 2019 demanding the infringing activities of copying and distribution cease immediately[,]" but the posts were not taken down. Bell further alleges that in 2019 Haralson also made a Twitter post with the same picture of the WIN Passage.

Bell's Complaint asserts that the posts constitute copyright infringement of the Book and of the WIN Passage. Bell also alleges that the posts constitute violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, because MPS allegedly allowed distribution "of the WIN Passage to over 700 Twitter followers knowing that Dr. Bell's copyright management information had been removed . . . ."

In the Complaint, Bell notes that he offers licensing of the Book and the WIN Passage at reasonable rates. Bell is seeking actual or statutory damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees and costs.

MPS has not yet filed an answer to the Complaint, but we will provide updates going forward. We have reported on several other cases involving Dr. Bell and the WIN Passage over the last few years. A sampling can be found here, here, here, here, and here.