“A Course in Miracles” was claimed to be religious instruction dictated to the author by Jesus Christ.
Who: Penguin Books USA Inc v. New Christians USA Inc v. New Christian Church of Full Endeavour
Where: Southern District of New York, USA
"A Course in Miracles" was claimed to be religious instruction dictated to the author by Jesus Christ. When the Defendant was sued for copying sizeable parts of the work on the internet, it defended on the basis that Christ was the author, not the Claimant, and that the writings of a deity were not eligible for copyright protection. The Claimant countered with the argument that a human scribe was still needed to transcribe and edit the information and was therefore co-author and able to sue for infringement of the relevant rights. The Defendant tried to trump this by submitting that by failing to mention Christ's co-authorship when registering the work with the US Copyright office, the Claimant had committed fraud.
The Court felt that there was sufficient human involvement in the transcription process to justify granting an immediate injunction preventing further posting of the material onto the web. The substantive issue of copyright ownership, however, has still to be dispositively dealt with at full trial.
Some might say that the Claimant cannot have it both ways by claiming divine authorship and earthly entitlement to royalties'.
Why this matters:
It does not, but some cases simply have to be reported!
Acknowledgements to the December 2000 issue of European Intellectual Property Review.