Brooks-Ngwenya v. Indianapolis Public Schools (U.S. Court Of Appeals, Seventh Circuit)
No: 08-1973 (April 15, 2009)
Before: Posner, Williams, and Tinder

COPYRIGHT; RIGHT TO SUE (Registration denial does not preclude an applicant from initiating a copyright suit.)

Opinion (Per Curiam): Brooks-Ngwenya, a middle school teacher sued the Indianapolis Public Schools (“IPS”) for copyright infringement related to an educational program that she had developed.  The District Court granted summary judgment to IPS, on the ground that Brooks-Ngwenya’s copyright registration was denied prior to the filing of the suit.  The Seventh Circuit disagreed with this reasoning by relying on section 411(a) of the Copyright Act, which allows an applicant to file a copyright suit, even if the registration was denied.  Brooks-Ngwenya claimed that IPS copied the ideas of her program, without proving that IPS copied the documents related to her educational program.  Therefore, on substantive grounds, the Seventh Circuit found that Brooks-Ngwenya’s copyright claim failed due to the lack of evidence that IPS copied the original expression of Brooks-Ngwenya’s idea, since the idea itself is not copyrightable.  Affirmed.

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Source: Willamette Law Online