Following a summary judgment ruling last month, a federal judge this week signed off on a permanent injunction immediately barring Moppet Books from distributing in the U.S. any versions of its KinderGuides series held to be infringing, until the works on which they are based enter the public domain. In addition, Moppet Books also agreed to destroy all current copies of the infringing works "in its possession or under its control" within 10 days.
Don't expect the shredders to fire up quite yet, however. While the ban on distribution is effective immediately, the injunction includes an automatic stay on the destruction of existing stock, pending the “final outcome” of the appeal process.
In the short term, the distribution ban changes little: Moppet co-founder Fredrik Colting told PW earlier this month that the infringing copies have not been for available for sale for months, after the plaintiffs sent takedown notice to online retailers and to the company's web host. Even without a preliminary injunction, and with the matter being disputed in the courts, the takedown notices had effectively stopped publication.
The question of damages and legal fees, meanwhile, has not yet been addressed. And in a separate order, the court set a trial date for October 2 to address the outstanding claims of willful infringement.
The injunction, which was consented to by both parties, comes after publishers Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, along with the estates of Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Arthur C. Clarke, and Ernest Hemingway sued upstart Moppet Books for copyright infringement, alleging that its KinderGuide editions of classic novels—including Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kerouac’s On the Road, Clarke’s 2001, A Space Odyssey and Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea—were “unauthorized derivatives” cast as “study guides intended for the elementary school set.”
On July 28, Judge Jed Rakoff issued a summary judgment for the plaintiffs, rejecting Moppet Books’ claims that the works, created by founders Frederik Colting and Melissa Medina for the company's KinderGuides series, were protected by fair use. The ruling came just days after oral arguments were presented in the case, and without an accompanying memorandum by Rakoff explaining his decision, which the judge said would come “in due course.”
At press time, Rakoff's legal opinion still has not issued.
Moppet co-founder Fredrik Colting told PW that Moppet was still planning an appeal—however, without an opinion from Rakoff, could not say when, or what that appeal would specifically address.
Meanwhile, despite the ongoing legal battle, Moppet Books is moving ahead with plans to launch a new line of books in October, including a collection of KinderGuides based on public domain works, and two original nonfiction works.
In addition, Colting told PW he still hopes to find a way to publish the KinderGuides that were the subject of the suit. “Pending an appeal, we’ll learn what we can from Judge Rakoff’s ruling and will update and reformat the KinderGuides in question, as many times as it takes,” Colting explained. “Kids have a right to know what The Old Man and the Sea is about.”