Go to case details

Claim details

A claim for a declaration of noninfringement
Grand United Order of Oddfellows in American and Jurisdiction
Esmont, VA

Authorized representative information

pamela gavin
Gavin Law Offices, PLC
2229 Pump Road
Henrico, VA 23233
Shawn O Cannon
Compilation of Works of Grand United Order of Odd Fellows
Shawn O. Cannon
Literary (such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reference works)
A compilation of texts authored by the Claimant organization
Reproduce the work
Distribute copies of the work
unknown - Unknown
Respondent claimed Claimant is using, selling and copying the compilation claimed by Respondent
Respondent was a former member and officer of Claimant organization. As such, he had or obtained physical access to Claimant publications. While a member, Respondent requested permission from senior leadership to compile the writings/foundational documents of Claimant and to publish them arguably acknowledging he had no right to do so without permission. On information and belief, no permission was granted by Claimant. Claimant's subject works were written over decades by members of Claimant, dating back to Claimant's inception in the 1800's. Respondent's compilation contains numerous individual writings, with dates of creation spread over hundreds of years, mostly prior to 1927 (although a few remain undated). Respondent published A COMPILATION OF BOOKS OF THE GRAND UNITED ORDER OF ODD FELLOWS and obtained copyright registration both claiming and excluding text in the works in the compilation on January 10, 2022. Clearly, Respondent had no right to claim any text not authored by him, including, without limitation, any of the works Respondent obtained from Claimant. Claimant retains the right to use each individual work contained in Respondent's compilation. Following his compilation publication, Respondent departed the organization on bad terms, and is now declaring himself the owner of the entirety of said writings by virtue of his compilation copyright and accuses Complainant of copyright infringement. Respondent has provided no evidence or specifics to Complainant to support Respondent's claim of copyright infringement. Relevant documents are attached.
Respondent has the burden of proof of infringement. Respondent must prove: (1) Respondent owns a valid copyright; and (2) that Claimant infringed that copyright. Copyright protection extends only to original works of authorship. Cannon does not have a valid copyright in the individual, underlying elements of the compilation as he is not their original author. Thus, if Claimant uses any of the underlying elements in the compilation in any order or format other than that expressly adopted by Respondent, either together or alone, it cannot infringe Respondent's rights (assuming, but not conceding he has any). First, Respondent is not the original author of any of the works specifically listed in the compilation and/or his demand letter, nor was any copyright registration transferred to him from the original author(s) or from the Claimant. On information and belief, the individual texts were authored by or on behalf of Claimant organization, and not by Respondent, and are up to 200 years old. As Respondent noted in his copyright application, Respondent was born in 1972, and the majority of writings at issue were published in the 19th century, he cannot be their original author and has not secured any permission or rights from Claimant or any third party. He owns no copyright interest in any of the individual texts featured in the compilation. Due to the age of most of these writings, they lie in the public domain, and thus no one can have copyright protection in the individual texts. The only writings that would not be in the public domain are those published after 1927. If any of the subject writings were written after 1927, copyright protection would reside with their original author and not with Respondent. Copyright protection in a compilation extends only to the material contributed by the author of the compilation, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. Because Respondent has copyright protection only over the selection and arrangement of the subject texts, Claimant would only be infringing if it copied Respondent’s exact order and presentation (i.e., by copying his entire compilation of Claimant's texts in its entirety, in the order in which they appeared, along with any original creative authorship he may have supplied). On information and belief, Claimant has never acted in such a manner and need not ever act in such a manner given that it derives no value from the arrangement nor from Respondent's contribution to the compilation, consisting solely of a front page cover, a "Dedication" page, and a "Miscellaneous Information" page. As Respondent has no copyright protection over the underlying, individual works and because: (1) Claimant is simply using the individual texts authored by or for Claimant which were physically obtained by Respondent from Claimant, and (2) not in any order or arrangement identical or even similar to Respondent’s compilation, and (3) is not using any material authored by Respondent, Respondent's claim of infringement must fail. Complainant respectfully requests a finding of noninfringement.