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Minds v. Office Depot, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 27, 2019

Great Minds, a non-profit organization, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Office Depot, Inc., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted November 8, 2019 Pasadena, California

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California John F. Walter, District Judge, Presiding No. 2:17-cv-07435-JFW-E.

          Christopher J. Sprigman (argued), Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP, New York, New York; Jeffrey E. Ostrow, Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP, Palo Alto, California; Rhett O. Millsaps, II, Law Office of Rhett O. Millsaps II, New York, New York; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Jennifer A. Golinveaux (argued), Winston & Strawn LLP, San Francisco, California; Diana Hughes Leiden, Winston & Strawn LLP, Los Angeles, California; for Defendant-Appellee.

          Andrew M. Gass (argued) and Elizabeth H. Yandell, Latham & Watkins LLP, San Francisco, California; Diane M. Peters, Creative Commons Corp., Mountain View, California; for Amicus Curiae Creative Commons Corporation.

          Before: Jerome Farris and M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judges, and Virginia M. Kendall, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY [**]

         Copyright

         The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim of a copyright infringement brought by Great Minds, publisher of math curriculum Eureka Math.

         The panel held that defendant Office Depot, Inc., did not become a licensee of a Creative Commons license, and become bound by its terms, or otherwise infringe Great Minds' copyright by making copies of Eureka Math materials for a profit on behalf of school and school district licensees. There was no dispute that the school and school districts licensees' copying of Great Minds' material was permitted under the license. There also was no dispute that, if Office Depot were itself a licensee, commercial copying of Great Minds' material would fall outside the scope of the license and infringe Great Minds' copyright. The panel held that, under California law, the school and school district licensees' exercise of their rights under the license through the services provided by Office Depot did not result in Office Depot becoming a licensee. The panel further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend the complaint.

          OPINION

          Farris, Circuit Judge.

         Plaintiff-Appellant Great Minds, publisher of math curriculum Eureka Math, appeals from the January 18, 2018 dismissal under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) of its copyright infringement claim against Office Depot, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Walter, J.). We AFFIRM. Office Depot did not itself become a licensee of the "Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License" (and become bound by its terms) or otherwise infringe Great Minds' copyright by making copies of Eureka Math materials for a profit on behalf of school and school district licensees.

         BACKGROUND

         Great Minds is an education-based non-profit organization. It created and copyrighted a math curriculum called "Eureka Math" for grades PreK-12, which it publishes and sells commercially in print form nationwide. It also releases digital files of Eureka Math online for free download to any member of the public under a limited public copyright license template produced by Creative Commons.[1] Under the License, "[e]very recipient of [Eureka Math] ...


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