Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Russ Hardenburgh, Inc., 982 F. Supp. 503 (N.D. Ohio 1997) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
The district court found direct infringement despite its agreement with the rationale of Religious Technology Center v. Netcom. The Hardenburgh court stressed that a direct infringer must "actually engage" in one of the activities reserved to copyright owners. The court found that the defendant BBS providers engaged in two of the activities exclusively reserved for copyright owners.
First, the court found the defendants had distributed and displayed copies of Playboy photographs. This finding hinged on the defendant's policy of encouraging subscribers to upload files onto its system, viewing the files in the upload file, and then moving the uploaded files into files generally available to subscribers. This transformed the defendants from passive providers of a space to active participants in the process of copyright infringement. The moving of the files, accomplished by employees constituted the distribution, and the display of those copies after the BBS's employees placed the files there violated the right of display.