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

Russell v. Price, 612 F.2d 1123 (1979) p.369


derivative works


Defendant distributed copies of the film for which the copyright had expired. Defendant contended that because the film copyright on the play had expired. that film is in the public domain, and consequently, prints of that film may be used freely by anyone. Film was copyrighted but not renewed, therefore all copyrights on the film expired and went to pubolic domain. Proprietors of copyright on stage play "Pygmalion" brought action for copyright infringement against certain parties who were distributing copies of film derived from the play.


The United States District Court for the Central District of California, Jesse W. Curtis, J., 448 F.Supp. 303, entered judgment for plaintiffs, and defendants appealed. Plaintiffs cross-appealed.


When the copyright in the original work was renewed, whether a new estate even though the copyrights in the derivative works were not expired, did the derivative work constitute an infringement of the original work?


The original work protected; what was protectible in the original work, that further existed in the derivative work is what would stop the later author from using that work.


Yes, the copys were infringement on the original work. The Court of Appeals, Goodwin, Circuit Judge, held that: (1) rejection of laches defense in case was not an abuse of discretion; (2) since exhibition of film "Pygmalion" necessarily involved exhibition of parts of stage play, which was still copyrighted, proprietors of copyright on stage play could prevent parties from renting film for exhibition without their authorization; (3) statutory "in lieu" damages were not mandatory in situation; (4) district court did not abuse its discretion in limiting damages to infringer's gross profits in case; and (5) generous award of $10,000 attorney fees was not unreasonable considering amount of work necessitated and performed, but additional attorney fees on appeal would be denied. Affirmed.



Copyright © Thompson Resources, 1999, all rights reserved.