In 2017 Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas, filed suit against Christie’s and Collectrium, a Christie’s company.
Heritage accused Christie’s and Collectrium of “scraping” the website of Heritage Auctions to appropriate information and images without permission. Heritage alleged copyright infringement, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, harmful access by computer, trespass, breach of contract, civil conspiracy, and unfair competition.
The suit was dismissed, and the parties went to arbitration on the order of the judge.
On February 14, 2019, the arbitrator, Judge James Ware (retired), issued his 81-page Partial Final Award in Heritage’s favor, awarding $1,760,001 for Collectrium’s violations.
On June 3 Judge Ware issued his 30-page Final Award. He found “that Claimants [Heritage] have valid copyright registrations....” He “determined that scraping and creating fictional user accounts are prohibited…conduct which Collectrium’s employees and its third-party contractors undisputedly engaged in for over a period of two years.... Respondent Collectrium knew that [Heritage] prohibited scraping of HA.com’s full auction listings…. Collectrium’s purpose in copying Heritage materials was for commercial gain. Indeed, the evidence shows that Collectrium was able to provide to its sister corporation, Christie’s, some initial scraped data in exchange for money.”
In his Final Award, Judge Ware found Heritage the prevailing party in the arbitration and awarded Heritage reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of $553,269.17.
Originally published in the September 2019 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2019 Maine Antique Digest