In an unpublished opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently upheld a ruling that refused to impose liability on an employer for copyright infringement by an employee.
In Klein & Huchman Inc v. CoStar Realty Information Inc., No. 10-12201 (11th Cir. April 28, 2011), an employee of a real estate agency accessed a subscription-based database of real estate information, such as prices and form documents. The employee accessed the database without authorization, using a password that he received from a prior employer. The database provider sued the real estate agency, claiming copyright infringment.
The trial court ruled in favor of the real estate agency, finding that the employer could not be viacriously liable or liable for contributory copyright infringement when it was not clear that the employer enjoyed a direct, financial benefit from the infringement.
In the new ruling, designated as unpublished, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision.