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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pearson Must Face Down Copyright Abuse Claim

CHICAGO (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss claims that the textbook-publishing giant Pearson Education infringed on 4,000 copyrighted photographs.

Pearson calls itself the leading publisher of college textbooks in the world, and says that nearly 50 percent of K-12 schools in America use at least one of their products.

Photographer Robert Frerck says he sold the rights to a number of his photographs to Pearson Education between 1992 and 2010. In a 2011 complaint, Frerck said Pearson exceeded the licensing terms with regard to approximately 4,000 of his photographs. In some cases, Pearson allegedly published Frerck's work without permission at all.

"While the lost licensing fee to any individual copyright holder is relatively small, Pearson has sold and distributed millions of these publications, generating billions in revenue and profits," the complaint states. "Pearson's business model, built on a foundation of pervasive and willful copyright infringement, deprived plaintiff and thousands of other visual art licensors of their rightful compensation and unjustly enriched Pearson with outlandish profits in the process."

The complaint mentions 10 other copyright lawsuits filed against Pearson since 2009.

Frerck said he had no way of knowing the extent of Pearson's actual use of his photographs, but cited some examples in his complaint.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr. refused to dismiss the case last week.

"Given that Pearson's own records will reveal its use of Frerck's images, the allegations in the complaint are sufficient to put Pearson on notice as to the nature and scope of Frerck's claims of unlicensed uses," Dow wrote.

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