MY NOTES: Business Organizations | Constitutional Law I | Copyright Law | Evidence | Wills and Trusts

MAGIC MARKETING, INC. v. MAILING SERVICES OF PITTSBURGH, INC. 634 F. Supp. 769 (1986)

SUBJECT:

Copyrightable material

FACTS:

An enveloped was copied by a printing company. Lawsuit was brought because the design and symbols used on the envelope were copied.

Procedure:

Alleged infringer moved for summary judgment on issue of copyrightability. This case was decided on summary judgment (no dispute regarding any issue of material fact).

ISSUE:

Whether markings on the outside of an envelope are copyrightable.

RULE:

Instructions and wording that tells of contents of envelope is not copyrightable.

HOLDING:

HELD: (1) envelopes describing their contents with phrases such as "TELEGRAM," "GIFT CHECK," and "PRIORITY MESSAGE" and noting that contents of envelope required immediate attention were generic in nature and lacked minimal degree of creativity necessary for copyright protection, and (2) motion for summary judgment was premature as it related to forms and letters.

RATIONALE:

The words were not original with the person. It is just saying this is what is inside. There is no originality on the outside of the envelope.

"Originality," an essential element for copyright protection, is distinct from novelty; to be original, work must be product of independent creation, and, while test for originality is a low threshold, author must contribute more than a trivial variation of a previous work, i.e., the work must be recognizably his own. 17 U.S.C.A. 102.

POLICY/NOTES: