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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.