Intellectual Property

MAI Systems Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1993

Facts:

Defendant Peak, a computer repair shop, repaired the computers of customers that had installed plaintiff MAI's software. While they were repairing the computers, they tried turning them on, which caused plaintiff's software to run. Plaintiff sued defendant for accessing its software without a license, as only the customers of the repair shop had a license.

Procedural History:

District court granted plaintiff summary judgment on the issue and issued a permanent injunction against defendant Peak.

Issue:

Was the software fixed when defendant accessed it?

Defendant's Argument:

We did not create a copy of the software. The software was only loaded into RAM, which is inherently transitory in nature.

Reasoning:

A copy of software in RAM was still fixed as an infringing copy, even if only for a short time. Also, a copy could have been created therefrom.

Holding:

Yes, the software was fixed. Affirmed as to the use of unlicensed software.

Note:

Congress subsequently amended the Copyright Act to allow software licensees to authorize copying programs for the repair or maintenance of computer hardware.

See Also:

Fixation
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