Great Minds has filed a suit against FedEx claiming the last wilfully and blatantly infringes intellectual property in certain non-profit educational materials created and owned by Great Minds.
As stated in the claim FedEx, being fully aware of Great Minds’ rights in and to the Materials, is misappropriating those rights by reproducing the Materials for profit despite Great Minds’ repeated notices that FedEx has no authorization or license to do so. Lawsuit seeking injunctive relief and damages suffered as a result of FedEx’s activities constituting copyright infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976.
Great Minds (formerly Common Core, Inc.) works with teachers and scholars to create instructional materials, conduct research, and promote policies that support a comprehensive and high-quality education in America’s public schools. Great Minds has created: curriculum maps for English Language Arts for grades K-12, which Great Minds is developing into a comprehensive curriculum; curriculum maps for U.S. and World history for grades K-5; and the Materials – a comprehensive math curriculum, Eureka Math, for grades PreK-12. More than 60,000 educators around the country have begun using Great Minds’ curricula, and in the last three years the states of New York and Tennessee have adopted the Materials for use as their math curriculum. Great Minds owns copyright registrations in the Materials.
Great Minds also makes the Materials available for any member of the public to “reproduce and Share . . . in whole or in part, for NonCommercial purposes only” under a Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – Share Alike 4.0 International Public License. The License makes clear, however, that Great Minds retains its copyright rights to commercial use and reproduction of the Materials.
This explicit limitation of the License to noncommercial use requires that commercial print shops, like FedEx, negotiate a license and pay a royalty to Great Minds if they wish to reproduce the Materials for commercial purposes – i.e., their own profit – at the request of their customers. Great Minds has entered royaltybearing licenses with other third parties for commercial reproduction of the Materials.
In or around October 2015, Great Minds discovered that at least one FedEx store in Michigan had reproduced the Materials for profit – a commercial use – without authorization or license from Great Minds. Great Minds, through its counsel, wrote to FedEx on October 27, 2015 to advise FedEx that its activities had exceeded the bounds of the License and violated Great Minds’ copyright rights in and to commercial uses of the Materials. Great Minds demanded that FedEx either enter a royalty-bearing license with Great Minds or cease such commercial reproduction of the Materials going forward.
FedEx, through its counsel, responded by letter dated December 3, 2015. Despite the plain language of the License granting members of the public the right to use the Materials for free for noncommercial purposes only, FedEx asserted that its duplication of the Materials for its own profit was lawful because FedEx was assisting school districts in their non-commercial use of the Materials. FedEx accordingly refused to negotiate a license with Great Minds for commercial reproduction rights in the Materials or to cease such commercial use.
In or around February 2016, Great Minds discovered that at least one FedEx store in or around Suffolk County, New York also had reproduced the Materials for profit without authorization or license from Great Minds. Great Minds, through its counsel, again wrote to FedEx on March 9, 2016 to correct FedEx’s mistaken view of its rights under the License and to renew Great Minds’ demand that FedEx negotiate a commercial license or cease all commercial reproduction of the Materials.
In a telephone call on March 23, 2016, FedEx’s counsel informed Great Minds, through its counsel, that FedEx would neither pay a royalty to Great Minds for its commercial reproduction of the Materials nor cease its commercial reproduction because, in FedEx’s view, FedEx is merely acting as an agent for school districts in assisting them with their lawful activities under the License.
Great Minds demanded the court to find that FedEx has infringed Great Minds copyright in the Materials and to enter a permanent injunction restraining FedEx and all other relevant persons from directly or indirectly infringing Great Minds copyrights. And certainly Great Minds wanted a judgment, at its own election, whether for actual damages or statutory damages.