Court Finds Pearson Must Reveal Print Quantities And Publication Dates

Posted on 3/22/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In the case of Jon Feingersh Photography, Inc. vs. Pearson Education, Inc. Judge Anita B. Brody in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has denied a request from Pearson that it not be required to release the print quantities and publication dates of the various textbooks in which 50 of Feingersh’s images were used.

It is believed this is the first time that a United States district court has analyzed and squarely ruled that textbook publishers' print run numbers should not be kept secret in copyright litigation.

Feingersh alleged that Pearson engaged in copyright infringement of his images ‘by using some without any permission, and by exceeding the permitted uses for others under the terms of the limited licenses.”

Before continuing with discovery Pearson asked the court for a Protective Order that would give the company the right to withhold 3 categories of information it claimed were confidential. The categories were: (1) the print quantities and dates of Pearson’s publications; (2) Pearson’s non-public financial data; and (3) Pearson’s sales and marketing projections.

The court granted Pearson the right to withhold the information related to point (2) but allowed the Plantiff to challenge the confidentiality of any specific document in this category at a later stage in litigation. The court also allowed Pearson to withhold sales and marketing information.

In his response in opposition to "Pearson’s Motion for Protective Order" the Plaintiff alleged that “Pearson committed widespread, intentional, and systemic copyright infringements throughout dozens of its textbooks for many years. Recently, Pearson’s scheme has been discovered by Plaintiff and a handful of other photographers. In order to contain the ‘damage’ resulting from these discoveries, Pearson hopes to enlist the Court’s help, here and elsewhere, by recasting proof of its copyright infringement into ‘commercially sensitive information’ which must be kept secret.

“But the real reason Pearson demands the Court’s assistance in hiding its illegality is that proof of copyright infringement of Plaintiff’s photographs in the numerous textbooks at issue in this case is proof of infringement of nearly all of the other photographs used in these Pearson books. Plaintiff knows this because Pearson established uniform licensing parameters for almost all the photographs it used in its textbooks. In other words, when Pearson requested licenses from Plaintiff, it almost always bought and paid for identical rights from all the other copyright holders. Thus, when it infringed Plaintiff’s photographs, it infringed virtually all the other photographs too.”

While this move may help Feingersh with his case, it seems likely that Pearson will still refuse to reveal actual print runs to any other contributor unless that contributor files a copyright infringement suit.  However, the print runs for the specific books that are part of Feingersh’s suit should eventually be included in the public court record. At that point photographers with images in any of those titles should be able to discover if, and to what degree, their rights have been infringed.

Some claims in this case go back to image uses that were first licensed in 1995.

Copyright © 2012 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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