Houston school district could have settled a $9 million copyright suit for $250,000

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After declining to settle a claim of copyright violations in 2016 for $250,000, the Houston school district was saddled with a court judgment of more than 36 times that amount last month, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Educational materials supplier DynaStudy won its federal lawsuit against the school district for rampant copyright violations. A jury awarded the two-person company $9.2 million, and the district may also have to pay DynaStudy’s $1.5 million in attorneys’ fees.

Jurors determined that employees in the district repeatedly violated federal copyright law over more than a decade by copying and widely sharing DynaStudy’s printed educational guides.

The Chronicle reported that court documents reveal the district turned down at least four chances to settle the case. Although the district’s elected school board has the power to approve all legal settlements, two former board members who served during that time told the newspaper they don’t recall getting information about the offers.

“It appears that HISD’s motivation was to make the process too expensive for DynaStudy to survive it, as evidenced by its low offers of settlement, its numerous motions and filings, and its resistance to discovery,” Gary Sorden, a Dallas-based lawyer representing DynaStudy, wrote in a Monday court filing, according to the newspaper.

District officials haven’t said if they intend to appeal the verdict.

 

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