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Court affirms judgment in school district's favor

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of Indianapolis Public Schools in a copyright infringement case, but first had to decide whether it could proceed on the merits.
 
In Angela E. Brooks-Ngwenya v. Indianapolis Public Schools, No. 08-1973, Angela Brooks-Ngwenya sued the school system after she was fired claiming copyright infringement over the school's use of a program that she developed for the school, and employment discrimination. Her discrimination claims were barred because they had already been settled in a previous suit.

While working at a middle school, Brooks-Ngwenya developed "Transitioning into Responsible Students" or TIRS, which she claimed IPS promised to buy and to hire her as a full-time permanent classroom coordinator if the program was successful. The school continued to use TIRS after she was fired and didn't purchase the program.

In the suit that settled, she had claimed copyright infringement, but that issue was dismissed without prejudice. She renewed her claims in District Court in 2007. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of IPS, ruling she couldn't win on the copyright claim because registration is a prerequisite to file a suit and her application to register TIRS was rejected by the Copyright Office. The office later approved her application.

In order to rule on Brooks-Ngwenya's suit, the per curium court had to decide whether she could proceed with her copyright infringement claim. The 7th Circuit examined the requirements under 17 U.S.C. Section 411(a), which say an applicant must inform the Register of Copyrights about any suit. Even though there's no evidence she sent notice of the suit, the purpose of the notification requirement was fulfilled, the per curium court ruled.

"The district court should have insisted on Brooks-Ngwenya's compliance with the requirement that she notify the Copyright Office about her lawsuit. Otherwise the Register would have no opportunity to choose to defend the decision to deny registration. But the point is now academic, because the Register did weigh in during the litigation, not by intervening but by granting Brooks-Ngwenya's renewed application," wrote the court. "We are free to recognize that fact even though the district court was incorrectly persuaded by IPS that it could not."

The record showed Brooks-Ngwenya didn't prove or even try to prove IPS copied any of the material protected by the copyright and copyright protection doesn't apply to an idea but to the original expression of it, wrote the court.

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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