Sega Entertainment Ltd. V. Maphia
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
948 F. Supp. 923 (1996)
Sega Entertainment Ltd. (Sega) (plaintiff) manufactured and distributed video-game systems and programs and held copyrights for each of its games. After development, Sega games were exclusively stored on game cartridges that were readable only by Sega game systems. Sega did not authorize any copying or storing of finished games in other formats. Chad Sherman (defendant) operated MAPHIA (defendant), an electronic bulletin board on which users could upload and download information, including video-game programs. Sega discovered that MAPHIA users were uploading and distributing unauthorized versions of Sega games. Evidence showed that MAPHIA contained unauthorized copies of 18 Sega games, including both games currently in development and finished works. Sherman had the capability to track MAPHIA users’ uploads and was able to see that users were uploading Sega games to the board. Sherman also used MAPHIA to sell video-game copiers, pieces of hardware that were necessary to play copies of games downloaded from MAPHIA. Sherman’s business also offered additional free download data for users who purchased copiers. Sega sued Sherman for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement and filed for summary judgment. Sherman contested the infringement claims and argued a fair-use defense.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wilken, J.)
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