Class Action Against Pearson Education Approved

Posted on 10/3/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In Norbert Wu’s copyright infringement suit against Pearson Education, Inc. before Judge Richard J. Holwell, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York the court GRANTED class certification to one of Wu’s causes of action.

Wu requested class certification for the following two causes of action:
    Wu I – “Wu alleges that Pearson engaged in a widespread practice of specifying a particular print-run for its books when obtaining a licensing agreement for photographs, a term that was incorporated into the licensing agreement, then exceeding the print-run, often by large numbers.”

    Wu II – “Wu alleges that Pearson printed his photographs in its books and then obtained licensing agreements only afterwards.”
Wu has sought class certification for “[All] persons or entities entitled to bring copyright claims in their own name or on behalf of photographers or other copyright holders (referred to herein as “content owners” or “copyright claimants”) whose photographic works either (1) were used by Defendant in publications that exceeded the authorized print run; or (2) were published by Defendant prior to Defendant’s obtaining a license to use the image.”

Class certification of Wu I was GRANTED with certain minor modifications that can be found in the full order.  (Case 1:09-cv-06557-RJH-JCF)

In the order, “The motion for class certification with respect to Wu II has been denied but with respect to Wu II the court has permitted additional discovery to determine whether the defects in the court order can be corrected and the parties are scheduled to meet on October 14th to confer regarding a new discovery schedule.”

Wu has identified 144 total Pearson publications that featured his photographs. In “almost 40” of these publications Pearson exceeded the print run in the license.

Photographers who have licensed usage rights to Pearson in the last decade should recognize that there is a good likelihood that Pearson exceeded the print run authorized in more than one-quarter of their licenses. They should also note that it is not uncommon for Pearson to have 500 to 1,000 photos and illustrations in a single publication.

Therefore, if Wu had one or two images in a publication where the authorized print run was exceeded, it is very likely that the license agreement for every other image in the publication was also exceeded.

Those unfamiliar with Wu’s nature and underwater work should check out He is recognized as having one of the world's largest and most complete collections of still photographs of wildlife and the marine environment, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from anteaters to zebras, from tropical rainforests to the polar regions, from coral reefs to underwater icebergs.

The case was filed in 2009 by the law firm of Nelson & McCulloch LLP representing Norbert Wu and is slowly working its way through the legal system. This is a very preliminary victory, but may eventually work to the advantage of all photographers whose images have been used in Pearson Education books over the last decade.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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