Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. Maphia
948 F.Supp. 923, 41 USPQ2d 1705 (N.D. Cal. 1996)
Chad Sherman ran an online bulletin board website where users were allowed to upload and download unauthorized Sega computer video games. Sega was tipped off by one of the users of the bulletin board of these actions and gained access to the site. After recording evidence of the infringement, Sega filed suit for copyright infringement. Sega was unable to prove a prima facie case of direct infringement because there was no proof Sherman actually uploaded or downloaded the files himself. His actions were shown to be more participatory than anything which did not make him liable for direct infringement. However, he was not free from liability for contributory infringement. This is established where the defendant, “with knowledge of the infringing activity, induces, causes or materially contributes to the infringing conduct of another.” The court granted summary judgment regarding Sherman’s liability for copyright infringement, federal trademark infringement, and California unfair competition. The court also granted Sega’s request for a permanent injunction prohibiting further copying of Sega games via the Maphia electronic bulletin board site, or any bulletin board run by Sherman.