Indiana Copyright Litigation: Columbus North High School’s Football Coach Bless and Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation Sued for Copyright Infringement

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Dr. Keith F. Bell (“Dr. Bell”) of Travis County, Texas, filed suitBCSC-BlogPhoto-300x25 in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendants, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation (“Bartholomew”) of Columbus, Indiana and Timothy Bless (“Bless”) of Bartholomew County, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration Nos. TX 2,672,644 (the “‘644 Registration”) for “Winning Isn’t Normal” and TX 8,503,571 (the “‘571 Registration”) for “WIN Passage”. Dr. Bell is seeking actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and any other relief the court deems proper.

Dr. Bell claims he has worked as an internationally recognized sports psychologist with over 500 athletic teams including Olympic and national teams for seven different countries. Per the complaint, Dr. Bell also participates as a speaker for coaching symposia both at the national and international level. Dr. Bell’s work also allegedly includes ten books and eighty articles he authored and published relating to sports performance and sports psychology.

According to the complaint, Dr. Bell wrote the book Winning Isn’t Normal in 1981 which included a particular passage Dr. Bell entitled the “WIN Passage” (the “Infringed Works”). After the publishing of the book in 1982, Dr. Bell allegedly registered Winning Isn’t Normal and the WIN Passage with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1989 and 2017, respectively. Dr. Bell claims he has spent substantial time and effort promoting and selling copies of Winning Isn’t Normal and continues to sell it through various websites and outlets while also offering licenses for those that wish to publish the WIN Passage or use it in any way.

Dr. Bell asserts Bartholomew is a public-school system in Indiana that operates Columbus North High School (“North High”). Bless is allegedly employed at North High by Bartholomew as a health and physical education teacher as well as a coach for the North High football team. According to the complaint, Bless operates a Twitter account recognized as @CoachTimBless (the “Twitter Account”) for the benefit of his employer as his account allegedly increases ticket sales, concessions sales, and increases attendance at the North High football games.

Bless allegedly posted a textual representation of the WIN Passage on his Twitter Account without a license, authorization, or permission from Dr. Bell to reproduce, display, or otherwise use the Infringed Works and continued displaying the representation on his account until it was removed sometime around September 2016. Dr. Bell claims Bartholomew had the right and ability to prevent the alleged infringement by Bless but failed to exercise that right. As such, Dr. Bell is claiming direct copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501 against both Bartholomew and Bless. Dr. Bell is also claiming vicarious copyright infringement against Bartholomew because he alleges Bartholomew failed to supervise and/or control Bless’ allegedly infringing conduct and received a financial benefit from Bless’ actions pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504.

The case was assigned to District Judge James R. Sweeney II and Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker in the Southern District and assigned Case 1:19-cv-03308-JRS-TAB.

Keith F. Bell Complaint

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