Color Climax Corporation, ApS of Copenhagen, Denmark and Digital Graphic Systems, AB of Stockholm, Sweden (administrator of the Color Climax Web site) have filed the first of several planned lawsuits against Internet users who are infringing Color Climax's copyrights and trademarks.
The complaint, filed on July 31, 1998 in the Eastern District of New York against an Internet user going by the name "Bile" alleges copyright and trademark infringement as well as unfair competition resulting from Bile's posting Color Climax works to usenet news, selling Color Climax's works on CD-ROM, and maintaining the "CRC" list for use with the "JPEG Sheriff"-a software package used by infringers to inventory their stolen images.
This suit is the first in a campaign intended to show Internet users that copyright holders such as Color Climax do monitor the Internet and will no longer tolerate the theft of their intellectual property. "Bile's" actions have earned him the honor of the first suit in Color Climax's anti-piracy campaign. A spokesman for Digital Graphic Systems stated that the company will no longer tolerate the flagrant distribution of the copyrighted Color Climax material in Newsgroups and on the Internet:
"By posting our material to the Newsgroups, we are very concerned that minors have ready access to the same content we provide through our Web site which is restricted to consenting Adults only. Furthermore, anyone who is selling CD-ROMs of our images or who has our material on their Web is infringing on our copyrights and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Internet users have to realize that they can't give away, even for free, what does not belong to them. By these suits we hope to make other infringers aware that intellectual property laws are important, and that we will take the necessary steps to stop any violation of our copyright interests."
"This is the first suit of several that Color Climax and Digital Graphic Systems have planned," stated an attorney at the Chicago law firm of Davis, Mannix & McGrath, who prepared the suit against "Bile". "We have been collecting evidence against various usenet news posters and Web site operators for some time. It always amazes me that people openly solicit copyright infringement by posting their 'wish lists' of infringements to usenet news in order to build their collections of stolen images. Posting or downloading even a single image is a likely violation of the law. What some Internet users think is merely a harmless hobby could give rise to substantial liabilities."
Many Internet users are under the misimpression that works posted to usenet news are "public domain" and are free for the taking. In fact, they are still protected by the copyright laws and international treaties. Because of the way computers operate, downloading a single image is enough to result in tens of thousands of dollars in potential liability.
"People subscribe to our Web site because we run a trustworthy operation," stated the President of Digital Graphic Systems. "The trust of our subscribers has been earned by showing them that we take our business seriously-whether it is providing a discrete, quality service, or whether it is preserving the value of a membership by stopping the rampant distribution of our copyrighted works all over the Internet. We encourage people who have unlawful copies of our works to delete them. We will no longer tolerate any violations, and we are taking the protection of our intellectual property as seriously as any other part of the business Digital Graphic Systems and Color Climax have spent 32 years building.