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Washington Publishing Co. v. Pearson

306 U.S. 30 (1939)

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Washington Publishing Co. v. Pearson

United States Supreme Court

306 U.S. 30 (1939)

Facts

In 1931, Washington Publishing Company (the company) (plaintiff) published an issue of its monthly magazine (the magazine), which contained a printed notice of copyright in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1909. In 1932, Pearson and others (the writers) (defendants) wrote and published a book containing material essentially identical to an article from the magazine. In the same year, the writers deposited copies of the book with the United States Copyright Office (the copyright office) pursuant to § 13 of the act, which requires that copies of a work be “promptly” deposited with the copyright office once the copyright is secured. Subsequently, in 1933, the company deposited copies of the magazine with the copyright office. The company filed suit against the writers for copyright infringement. The writers argued that, although the company had a valid copyright, the company could not maintain a suit for alleged infringement that occurred before the company deposited copies of the magazine because the company’s deposit was not “prompt” within the meaning of § 13. The company, however, argued that deposit of copies was not required to file an infringement suit as long as the copies were deposited before the suit was initiated. The trial court agreed with the company, but the court of appeals reversed, finding that the company could not maintain an infringement suit due to the company’s failure to “promptly” deposit copies of the magazine in accordance with § 13. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McReynolds, J.)

Dissent (Black, J.)

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