LA Times v. Free Republic

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

09/28/1998

Status: 

Concluded

Location: 

California

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Settled (total)
Verdict (plaintiff)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$10,000.00
On September 28, 1998, the Los Angeles Times sued the Free Republic website for copyright infringement in federal court in California. Users of Free Republic, a conservative internet forum founded and operated by James Robinson, frequently posted copies of articles of... read full description
Parties

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Los Angeles Times; The Washington Post Company; Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Company

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Free Republic; Electronic Orchard; James Robinson; John Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Media Company

Type of Party: 

Individual

Location of Party: 

  • California
  • Delaware

Location of Party: 

  • California

Legal Counsel: 

David Flyer, Brian Buckley (Brian L Buckley Law Offices)
Description

On September 28, 1998, the Los Angeles Times sued the Free Republic website for copyright infringement in federal court in California. Users of Free Republic, a conservative internet forum founded and operated by James Robinson, frequently posted copies of articles of interest for discussion on the site. According to the complaint, articles from the Times and the Washington Post were copied verbatim and in their entirety.

Free Republic asserted that the copies constituted fair use under copyright law and were a mode of free speech under the First Amendment, and moved for summary judgment on those grounds on October 19, 1999. The Times filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment on the question of infringement. The court denied Free Republic's motion and granted the Times' motion, ruling that the fair use doctrine's factors weighed in favor of the Times and that enforcing the plaintiffs' copyright claims did not impermissably restrict the speech of Free Republic users.

On November 16, 2000, the court entered final judgment in favor of the Times, and ordered Free Republic to remove all of the plaintiffs' copyrighted material from its website and enjoined Free Republic from posting any new copyrighted material in the future. (The court did note that Free Republic could post copyrighted material if it met the requirements of the fair use doctrine.) The court also awarded the Times $1 million in statutory damages from Robinson and Free Republic. Electronic Orchard, an Internet programming and design company owned by Robinson, was not found liable for damages.

Free Republic appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. While on appeal, the parties agreed on a modified version of the district court's judgment and settled the case. The modified judgment still retained the injunction but reduced the damage award from $1 million to $5,000 to the Times and $5,000 to the Post. The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court for the purposes of entering the modified judgment.

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Subject Area: 

  • Copyright
  • Fair Use
  • Third-Party Content
Court Information & Documents

Jurisdiction: 

  • California

Source of Law: 

  • United States

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Central District of California; United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Court Type: 

Federal

Case Number: 

98-CV-7840 (trial), 00-57211 (appeal)

Relevant Documents: