The Israel Supreme Court has ruled that the publishers “Tarbut l’Am” (lit. culture for the people) should compensate the inheritors of the lexicographer Abraham Even Shushan for dictionaries sold since 1999.
Back in 1993, some 9 years after the lexicographer passed away, the descendents of Even Shushan, Dafna Shefer, Yuval Even Shushan and Miriam Even Shushan sued publishers Kiryat Sefer (Book-Town), and in 1998, Judge Esther Chayet, then of the District Court, issued an injunction against the publishers, preventing direct or indirect sales of the dictionary, and ordering that the inheritors receive 10 million Shekels compensation. However, the owner of Kiryat Sefer, Abraham Sivan, left the country and the plaintiffs never received anything.
The inheritors went on to sue the owners of Tarbut l’Am for continuing to sell dictionaries purchased between 1993 and 1998, but the court accepted that Tarbut l’Am purchased these dictionaries in good faith and were unaware of the legal proceedings. On Appeal, Judge Meltzer ruled that the copyright returned to the family on their terminating the agreement, and all copies sold by Tarbut l’Am after they were put on notice by the families that the books were illegal copies were considered as willfully infringing. The claim of purchase on the market is an acceptable defense only up until being warned that the copies were infringing, but couldn’t use that as a defense to keep on selling the books, and so continued distribution after receiving and Cease & Desist notice was considered actionable copyright infringement.
The Supreme Court referred the case back to the district court to rule on compensation to the inheritors and ruled NIS 50,000 against the distributors.
The case: Civil Appeal: Shefer and others vs. Tarbut L’Am