In a victory for journalism and fair use, Playboy Entertainment has given up on its lawsuit against Happy Mutants, LLC, the company behind Boing Boing. Earlier this month, a federal court dismissed Playboy’s claims but gave Playboy permission to try again with a new complaint, if it could dig up some new facts. The deadline for filing that new complaint passed this week, and today Playboy released a statement suggesting that it is standing down. That means both Boing Boing and Playboy can go back to doing what they do best: producing and reporting on culture and technology.
This case began when Playboy filed suit accusing Boing Boing of copyright infringement for reporting on a historical collection of Playboy centerfolds and linking to a third-party site. The post in question, from February 2016, reported that someone had uploaded scans of the photos, and noted they were “an amazing collection” reflecting changing standards of what is considered sexy. The post contained links to an imgur.com page and YouTube video—neither of which were created by Boing Boing.
Together with law firm Durie Tangri, EFF filed a motion to dismiss [PDF]. We explained that Boing Boing did not contribute to the infringement of any Playboy copyrights by including a link to illustrate its commentary. The judge agreed, dismissing the lawsuit and writing that he was “skeptical that plaintiff has sufficiently alleged facts to support either its inducement or material contribution theories of copyright infringement.”
It’s hard to understand why Playboy brought this case in the first place, turning its legal firepower on a small news and commentary website that hadn’t uploaded or hosted any infringing content. We’re also a little perplexed as to why Playboy seems so unhappy that the Boing Boing post is still up when the links they complain about have been dead for almost two years. In any event, this suit now appears to be over and the Boing Boing team can focus on doing what they love: sharing news, commentary, and awesome things with the world.