Great Minds is a nonprofit organization that publishes educational materials, including a copyrighted math curriculum available under a CC license allowing noncommercial use only. Office Depot made copies of the math curriculum on behalf of schools and school districts. The parties initially entered into a licensing agreement, but Office Depot terminated the agreement after the Great Minds v. FedEx Office district court decision, which held that FedEx could make copies of the materials at the request of school districts exercising their rights under the CC license. Great Minds then filed suit for copyright infringement and breach of contract in federal court in California.
Office Depot filed a motion to dismiss the case in district court, arguing that Great Minds failed to state a valid copyright infringement claim and that the Great Minds case in New York supported this. Great Minds argued that there were significant facts differentiating the two cases, most notably that Office Depot engaged in active solicitation of the printing business. The district court in the Central District of California dismissed the copyright infringement claim, holding that the CC license permitted the school districts to use contractors to exercise their rights under the license. Great Minds appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower court decision. Creative Commons intervened as amicus curiae, arguing that CC licenses are designed to allow licensees to use contractors to exercise their rights under the license.