Sylvia Scott Gibson v. Amazon.com, Inc.

Gibson v. Amazon.com, Inc. Case No. Cv 11-0021-ODW (DTBX) United States District Court Central District of California, Western Division. September 8, 2011.

Case Details

Plaintiff Sylvia Scott Gibson self-published a book in 1991 titled Latawnya, The Naughty Horse, Learns to Say “No” to Drugs. After she filed a claim against the defendants, including Amazon.com as well as Urban Dictionary LLC and Pacific Lutheran University, the defendants moved for summary judgment.

Plaintiff’s Argument

  • Sylvia Scott Gibson filed a claim for copyright infringement against Amazon.com for the unauthorized sale of her book.
  • Gibson filed a claim against Urban Dictionary for an entry that resembled her book’s title / character
  • Gibson filed a claim against PLU for several web pages published by students that referred to her book

Amazon’s Argument

  • Amazon.com has neither published nor sold the book
  • The only sales of the Plantiff’s book on Amazon.com were by third-party sellers, with a total of 35 copies resold via Amazon
  • Third-party sales are legal and proper under the First Sale Rule, which allows a person to freely resell a previously-purchased book as he or she wishes

Summary and Conclusion

According to the court opinion, Plaintiff “demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts, the Internet, and the law.” Therefore, PLU, Amazon.com and Urban Dictionary’s motions for summary judgment are granted by the court.