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Who Owns the Descriptions in Auction Catalogs? Heritage vs. Superior lawsuit


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A lawsuit filed in Texas has drawn the attention of the numismatic community. Its resolution may pose problems for the auction industry as a whole.

 

On November 7, 2006, Heritage Auction Galleries, Inc. of Dallas filed suit against Superior Galleries, Inc. of California, charging copyright infringement, unfair competition, and that Superior had flat out stolen its printed catalog descriptions relating to coins. Heritage claims that Superior “has reproduced and distributed, and is continuing to reproduce and distribute, to the public, auction catalogs containing unauthorized copies and/or derivative works of the Copyrighted Works that were copied and/or derived from Heritage’s own catalogs and/or archives.”

 

http://www.maineantiquedigest.com/articles...pyright0307.htm

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Interesting. I have more than once used images from the Heritage site, but only for coins which I own. I don't think they would mind since I'm not using them for profit.

 

If Superior is doing this, they have a real problem since it would be fairly easy to prove.

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I always assume that when I buy a coin - ebay, heritage, teletrade, coinpeople, whatever, that I get the picture and description that go with it. For example I bid on a few Large Cents from the Jules Reiver Sale that had half page descriptions/pedigrees associated with them. While I didn't win any of them, I would feel free to use that info if I had. Afterall, it's why I was attempting to buy the coins.

 

Now for a commercial endeavor like another auction house to use them. Not without permission.

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Interesting article. The first two examples stretch the issue of copyright in my opinion. The third example, however, sure reads like a direct lifting a text. It doesn't really describe the coin (unlike deep, chocolate satin finish)

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