Penguin Group USA plans to appeal a decision handed down earlier this month that found the company infringed on the copyright of author Stuart Silverstein. The ruling, by judge John Keenan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, stems from a lawsuit filed by Silverstein that charged that Penguin copied his Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker in its compilation of Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems. A Penguin spokesperson said the company was "surprised by the decision, which we are convinced is inconsistent with the Copyright Act, and we expect it will be reversed on appeal."

In finding for Silverstein, Keenan ruled that in organizing the uncollected poems of Parker into his own book, Silverstein had shown enough creativity and originality to qualify for protection under the compilation copyright doctrine. Compilation copyright, often referred to as thin copyright, provides copyright protection to an author who has assembled a book from other works. In Silverstein's case, his Not Much Fun featured 122 poems by Parker that had never been published. After turning down a $2,000 offer from Penguin, Silverstein sold the collection, which he edited and wrote an introduction for, to Scribner in 1996.

In 1999, Penguin released Complete Poems, in which an entire section was, in the words of Silverstein's attorney Monica McCabe, "copied typo for typo," from Not Much Fun. In his decision, Keenan noted that Penguin editors had admitted "cutting and pasting" Silverstein's work into Complete Poems. That admission, coupled with Keenan's finding that Silverstein had done enough original work in compiling Not Much Fun to qualify for copyright protection, meant Penguin had infringed Silverstein's copyright.

"It was an egregious case of copyright violation," McCabe said, noting that Penguin did not give Silverstein credit in any way. McCabe said the ruling should be good news for anthologists who can now be assured that their works will have copyright protection.

Keenan has issued an injunction prohibiting Penguin from shipping additional copies of Completed Poems. A hearing is set for April 21 to discuss the possibility of recalling the book and to decide damages.