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Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Aveco, Inc., 800 F.2d (1986) p.570


rights under copyright


Holders of copyrights in video cassette motion pictures brought action alleging infringement.


On cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Malcolm Muir, J., 612 F.Supp. 315, granted summary judgment in favor of the holders. Appeal was taken.


Whether the playing of a rented video in a rented room constituted a public place.


"Performances" of copyrighted materials took place when customers of video cassette rental business operated video cassette players in rooms rented by business to members of general public.


The Court of Appeals, Stapleton, Circuit Judge, held that the video cassette rental business, by renting its rooms to members of the general public in which they could view performances of copyrighted video cassettes, obtained from any source, authorized public performances of those cassettes and violated the producers' exclusive rights to perform the work publicly. Affirmed.


Video cassette rental business, by enabling its customers to operate video cassettes in viewing rooms rented to members of general public, authorized performances and, therefore, could be responsible as infringer if there was public performance.

Performances of motion pictures at video cassette rental business' stores were "public" and thus, infringed copyrights where business was willing to make viewing room and video cassette available to any member of public with inclination to avail himself of service.

First-sale doctrine, which prevents copyright owner from controlling future transfers of particular copy of copyrighted work after he has transferred its material ownership to another, did not affect motion picture producers' exclusive rights to perform and to authorize public performances of copyrighted work.


17 USC 110 - there are exemptions for non profit performances (teaching, instructional broadcasting, religious, private, non-profit)
17 USA 110(7) - retail stores trying to sell the copyrighted work are exempt; so Blockbuster is exempt when it shows the movies advertising the product

If someone rents a movie at a hotel and watches it in their hotel room this could be held to be a public performance; on the other hand, the hotel might not be viewed as making public performance. The courts have ruled that viewing a rented video in a hotel room is NOT infringement, because the primary purpose of the hotel room is housing, and the rental of the video is incidental to the rental of the room.
- this should not be confused with the situation where you call the front desk and ask them to put a certain movie on your TV. This is transmission by the hotel and has been found to violate the right of public performance. - a retransmission of a public radio station to a hotel room by the hotel has not been found to be a public performance. If retransmitted in elevators, dining rooms, etc, then they are liable for retransmitting and they are liable for right of public performance.

Created on: Tuesday, October 19, 1999 at 18:58:10 (PDT)

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