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Hogan Lovells Litigation Team Secures TRO for HarperCollins Publishers in Copyright Infringement Case

06 December 2010

NEW YORK, 6 December 2010 – A team of lawyers from the New York office of Hogan Lovells US LLP has obtained a temporary restraining order for client HarperCollins Publishers LLC (HarperCollins) against Gawker Media LLC (Gawker), parent company of the media blog website Gawker.com. HarperCollins, publisher of the book America by Heart (the Book) by former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, claimed copyright infringement when Gawker on 17 November posted 21 full and exact pages of the Book on the website six days before it was set to be released to the public.

The Gawker posting, titled, "Sarah Palin’s New Book: Leaked Excerpts," contained little to no commentary by Gawker. On 19 November, after receiving no response from a cease and desist letter sent to Gawker, Hogan Lovells filed a copyright complaint against Gawker. The same day, Gawker was told that HarperCollins intended to seek on the following day (a Saturday) a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, enjoining Gawker during the pendency of the action from continuing to distribute, publish, or otherwise transmit pages from the Book. After HarperCollins advised Gawker on Saturday that a conference with a federal judge had been scheduled for 3:00 that afternoon, Gawker amended its posting, and portions of 12 pages from the Book remained on the website. Nevertheless, the Honorable Thomas P. Griesa of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted HarperCollins the temporary restraining order against Gawker.

On 22 November Judge Griesa issued a decision explaining that HarperCollins "has, to say the least, a likelihood of success on the merits in connection with its claim of copyright infringement, as against the defense of fair use." The Court further found that HarperCollins would be irreparably harmed without the injunction because monetary damages for the infringement would be difficult to calculate, and HarperCollins was attempting to "control the release of the Book. If this exercise of rights cannot be enforced with the aid of the court, a commercial advantage is lost, for which plaintiff cannot realistically be compensated in some later attempt to recover damages." Shortly after Judge Griesa issued his order on Saturday, Gawker removed the posting from its website. It later stipulated that it would not re-publish or distribute the posting or any of the pages from the Book in the posting. In connection with that stipulation, the parties agreed to dismiss the case.

The Hogan Lovells New York team was led by Media Group partners Slade Metcalf and Katherine Bolger, with assistance from associates Rachel Strom, Collin Peng-Sue, and Jason Porta.

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