Faulkner v. National Geographic Enterprises Inc.

Brief Filed: 6/04
Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Year of Decision: 2005

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 4.2MB)


Addresses the rights of scholarly publishers to digitize their present and past works

Index Topic



This suit was brought by a group of freelance writers and photographers who have provided materials for National Geographic's magazine. The defendants are National Geographic and other subsidiaries/affiliates of National Geographic. National Geographic has now placed past issues of its magazines into a computer accessible format. The plaintiffs allege that by doing this without their permission National Geographic has violated Section 201c of the Copyright Act because it did not obtain their permission to use these works in a context other than the original edition of the magazine. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York determined that National Geographic had not violated the law by making these magazines available through this new technology. The case was appealed to the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

APA's Position

APA joined with 30 other scholarly publishers in filing an amicus brief with the Second Circuit. The point of the brief is to explain to the Court that in the area of scholarly publications there has been an enormous improvement in the availability, preservation and dissemination of scholarly works that has been made possible by the technology similar to that National Geographic has used to make its past issues more available. The use of digital technology has enabled scholarly publishers to make their present and past works far more available to students and scholars. The brief explains in detail how making years of past scholarly works available via computer greatly helps scholars and students. It also focuses on legislative history that supports the argument that publishers are free to make their publications available in this manner without obtaining new permissions.


In March 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit confirmed the lower court ruling dismissing copyright claims against National Geographic thereby affirming that publication in a computer accessible format is permissible under the Copyright Act.