Book publishers have lost a lawsuit accusing ad network Chitika of contributing to copyright infringement by placing ads with the online site Pharmatext.org, which allegedly offered illegal downloads.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Stearns in Boston ruled on Friday that Elsevier and Wiley & Sons didn't spell out enough facts to show that Chitika knew of alleged infringement through Pharmatext. Therefore, Stearns ruled, Chitika is not liable for serving ads on the site.
Elsevier and Wiley argued in a lawsuit filed in January that Chitika and other third parties (ad networks and a domain registrar) contribute to piracy by Pharmatext.org, which allegedly offered free copies of e-books like "Development and Validation of Analytical Methods" and "Wiley Guide To Chemical Incompatibilities."
The publishers obtained a preliminary injunction in January ordering ad networks Chitika and Clicksor.com to stop placing ads with the site Pharmatext.org.
Chitika subsequently filed papers arguing that it shouldn't be held responsible for infringement on the Pharmatext's site. The company said it “simply offers technology that presents a display ad on a publisher’s website.”
The company added that it “did not and does not have any knowledge or notice of whether a site contains allegedly infringing materials, and it does not have any mechanism by which it can determine whether a publisher’s site contains allegedly infringing materials.” The ad network also said it paid Pharmatext a total of $513.93 to display ads between August of 2008 and December of 2010.
Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman, who previously told Online Media Daily that the case against the ad networks appeared weak, bloggedon Monday that the ruling “is a win for ad networks, indicating that they are not automatically liable for contributory copyright infringement simply because allegedly rogue websites participate in their networks.” But he added that the case might have come out differently if the publisher had demanded that Chitika remove Pharmatext from its publisher network.