In this week's Alabama Law Weekly Update, we review two decisions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, one of which addresses copyright licensing and the other discusses ADA compliance.

Karlson v. Red Door Homes, LLC, Case No. 14-12374 (11th Cir. May 7, 2015) (Actions of artist created implied nonexclusive copyright license).

  1. Karlson is an artist who creates color illustrations (i.e., renderings) of homes based off of architectural plans. Red Door Homes, LLC is a business which provides services, including drafting and designing services, to developers and homebuilders. Red Door provides proprietary planning and ordering software and the ability to access rendered home plans and designs to its customers through license agreements.  In 2008, Red Door began ordering renderings from Karlson for use in its business.  Karlson understood that Red Door was going to use his renderings as part of the assets and services Red Door offered its customers and that Red Door intended to sell his renderings to its clients.  Karlson then provided approximately 130 renderings to Red Door.  After providing a rendering to Red Door, Karlson would sometime later send Red Door an invoice.  In 2009, Karlson emailed a representative of Red Door and stated he thought he would be paid each time Red Door transferred a Karlson-prepared rendering to a client and requested he be paid based upon the number of builders the renderings benefitted and the number of renderings those builders used.  Red Door responded that it could not agree to Karlson's terms.  Karlson subsequently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Red Door.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Red Door.  Karlson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

On appeal, Karlson argued that he did not intend to allow Red Door to sell and relicense his renderings to its clients.  The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, finding that Karlson impliedly granted Red Door a nonexclusive license to use and distribute his renderings because Karlson created the renderings at Red Door's request, delivered them to Red Door, and knew, at the time he delivered the renderings, that Red Door would be using and distributing the renderings. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Red Door.

Gomez v. Dade County Federal Credit Union, Case No. 14-11539 (11th Cir. May 6, 2015) (Unintentional, temporary, and isolated noncompliance insufficient to establish ADA claim).

  1. Gomez is a resident of Miami, Florida and is legally blind. In 2013, Gomez stopped at an automated teller machine (ATM) near his home, inserted his card, and plugged his headphones in to the ATM. Contrary to the audible instructions required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Gomez heard nothing from the ATM's voice guidance system and was unable to transact his business.  Gomez filed a lawsuit under the ADA against the owner of the ATM, Dade County Federal Credit Union, asking for an injunction requiring Dade to bring the ATM, and others it owned like it, into compliance with the ADA.  The trial court dismissed Gomez's lawsuit.  Gomez appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the trial court's decision.  The Eleventh Circuit agreed that certain temporary noncompliance does not give a person the ability to bring an ADA claim for injunctive relief.  The Eleventh Circuit explained that because weather, wear, or computer glitches may temporarily hamper access, the law recognizes that brief, temporary noncompliance issues may arise through no fault of the business owner.  The Eleventh Circuit did caution that allowing problems to persist beyond a reasonable period of time would violate the ADA.