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 infringement.
    • 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 viewer's computer.
    • Those are violation of Marobie's right to reproduce under 17 U.S.C. 106(1).
  • The Trial Court found for Marobie.
    • 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 work.
      • 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 unauthorized.
    • 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 law.