Marobie-FL, Inc. v. National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors
983 F.Supp. 1167 (N.D. Ill. 1997)
A NAFED employee was looking
for some clip art to put on the NAFED website. He got a copy of some
images from some shady source, and posted them on the NAFED website.
Turns out, the clip art came
from a set owned by Marobie. The original package (which contained a lot
of clip art) was sold along with a copyright notice and a license only to
use the clip art on a single computer (not on a website).
Marobie sued for copyright
Marobie argued that NAFED
made an unauthorized copy of the clip art when they saved it to their
website's host's hard-drive.
Marobie argued that the
website host (Northwest) made an unauthorized copy whenever someone
viewed the website, because the clip art was sent to, and stored on, the
Those are violation of
Marobie's right to reproduce under
17 U.S.C. §106(1).
The Trial Court found for
The Trial Court found that
NAFED's obtaining and placing an unauthorized copy of the clip art on
their website's hosts' hard drive was a direct violation of Marobie's
exclusive right to reproduce their
NAFED argued that they were
an innocent infringer because
they had no idea that the clip art was copyrighted because the
individual images they used did not have a copyright seal on them.
However, the Court found that the suspicious manner in which the NAFED
employee got the images was enough to show that the copies were likely
The Court found that by
putting the clip art on the internet, where it was available to be
downloaded by anyone in the world, violated Marobie's exclusive right to distribute under 17 U.S.C. §106(3).
The Court found that
Northwest could not be held liable for direct infringement as a matter of