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Copyright Blog

Can You Unring a Bell?

An update on Dr. Bell's litigation against the Eagle Mountain Saginaw Independent School District.

On January 8, 2021, the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District (the "District") filed a Motion to Dismiss (the "Motion"). The Motion was filed in response to a Complaint filed by Dr. Keith Bell ("Bell"). For details on Bell's Complaint, see our previous blog post.

In its Motion, the District states the three theories of liability put forth by Bell in his Complaint, namely, direct, vicarious, and contributory infringement, and asserts that Bell has failed to prove any of these theories.

The District states that Bell failed to plead a claim for direct infringement. Furthermore, the District claims that Bell made "no specific allegation that the District received a direct financial benefit from the Twitter posts," and therefore failed to prove vicarious liability. Finally, the District claims that Bell allegations were "insufficient to plead a plausible case of contributory infringement because it cannot establish that the . . .[D]istrict encouraged, enabled, supported, or endorsed the post simply because it had a general policy prohibiting copyright infringement."

Should the court find Bell's claims satisfy the requisite plausibility standard, the District argued in the alternative that the case should be "dismissed based on the doctrine of innocent infringement." The District purports that, "there is no indication on the copy of the WIN passage that it was protected by copyright, nor whether the copy was authorized, and no indication that this would not be fair use or an educational use."