Booklocker.com, Inc. v. Sartain, No. 07-0176 (D. Me., Filed November 21, 2007). [Download the Complaint]
Online, on demand book publisher Booklocker.com has filed a declaratory judgment action against Utah-based artist Julie Sartain, in response to a cease and desist letter Sartain sent to Booklocker alleging copyright infringement. In the case, Booklocker seeks a determination by the United States District Court for the District of Maine that Booklocker’s use of artwork on book covers does not infringe on any copyright right held by Sartain.
The allegations are a bit sparse, as one may expect to see in federal pleading, but it appears that Booklocker believes Sartain does not own the copyrights in the cover artwork, but that such artwork is owned by the authors who have Booklocker print their books on demand. In the alternative, Booklocker asserts that it has some sort of implied license to reproduce the artwork through the course of dealing between the parties during the past four years.
In asserting that the individual authors — and not Sartain — own the copyrights in the individual pieces of cover art, Booklocker is putting a lot of faith in the process whereby the authors may have commissioned Sartain to create those works. The complaint says that there are more than a thousand works at issue. Are we to believe that there is a detailed, written agreement in place for each one of those works, in which Sartain assigned her copyright rights to these authors?