Agreement Granting “Perpetual” License Does Not Authorize Past Use of Copyrighted Work

The court denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on defendant’s license defense because the parties’ “perpetual” license agreement did not authorize past use of the copyrighted work. “⁠[Defendant] relies on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of ‘perpetual,’ which is ‘valid for all time,’ to assert that the license authorized all uses by [defendant] regardless of time. But . . . [another] definition suggests that holding an office or ‘something’ continues into the future for an unlimited time. An individual cannot hold a ‘perpetual’ office retroactively to the time of their birth, but rather, they can hold an office from the time they enter office and into the future. In the legal world, the word ‘retroactive’ is commonly used to denote something that will apply into the past. The license agreement did not state that authorization to use the [photo] was retroactive. In order for a license to apply retroactively, such authorization must be clearly stated.”

Bell v. Carmen Commercial Real Estate Services, 1-16-cv-01174 (INSD 2018-01-08, Order) (Tanya Walton Pratt)

2018-01-10T12:46:04+00:00 January 10th, 2018|Copyright, Docket Report|