E-Alert Case Updates
District Court Modifies Preliminary Injunction in Copyright Infringement Action
Metro. Regíl Info. Sys, Inc. v. Am. Home Realty Network, Inc.
In Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. v. American Home Realty Network, Inc., the United States District Court for the District of Maryland clarified the scope of its preliminary injunction to enjoin American Home Realty Network, Inc. (ďAmericanĒ) from displaying component photographs from a database maintained by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (ďMetropolitanĒ), as opposed to underlying textual information. The court had previously issued a preliminary injunction preventing American from displaying any content derived from Metropolitanís real estate database. The court reasoned that Metropolitan failed to demonstrate that the databaseís underlying textual data, such as real estate listings, were under copyright. Therefore, the court clarified the scope of its injunction to reach only the databaseís photographs. However, the court left open the possibility that it would revise its order should discovery reveal that American is displaying copyrightable textual information.
Writing for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Judge Alexander Williams denied Americanís Motion to Reconsider the courtís August 24 Order. The court rejected Americanís argument that denying American judgment as a matter of law constituted clear error. Rather, Metropolitan complied with the Copyright Actís written signature requirement because its subscribers supplied electronic signatures as defined under E-SIGN. Thought the court acknowledged that its August 24 Order did not discuss the Copyright Actís written signature requirement or E-Sign, the courtís Memorandum Opinion relevant thereto stated that ď[Metropolitan] appears to have obtained these copyrights by assignment when the photographs were uploaded to the MRIS Database by subscribers.Ē Metro. Regíl Info. Sys, Inc. v. Am. Home Realty Network, Inc., No. 12-cv-00954, slip op. at 11 (D. Md. Nov. 13, 2012). Therefore, the court properly exercised its authority issuing the preliminary injunction.
The court agreed with American that its Order was insufficiently specific under Rule 65, and amended its Order to enjoin the unauthorized copying, reproduction, public display, or public distribution of Metropolitanís photographs only. In reaching its conclusion, the court noted that a copyright on a factual compilation is thin, and that copyright protection extends only to those components of a work that are original. However, the court provided that, if during discovery Metropolitan identifies an original selection and arrangement of content, or that American has copied particular copyrightable textual elements, the court would be willing to revisit the scope of the preliminary injunction. The court also modified its August 24 Order to comply with Rule 65(c)ís requirement that a security be given by the party seeking a preliminary injunction, and accordingly ordered that Metropolitan post a bond of $10,000.
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