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Walt Disney Productions v. Air Pirates, 581 F.2d 751 (1978) p.263


COpyrightable material


Disney sued because two cartoon magazines were using Disney characters engaged in bawdy, promiscuous, and drug-ingesting behavior.


The United States District Court of Appeal for the Northern District of California, Albert C. Wollenberg, District Judge, 345 F.Supp. 108, entered judgment in favor of holder and parodists appealed.


Whether the cartoon characters are copyrightable.


Cartoon characters are copyrightable.


The Court of Appeals, Cummings, Circuit Judge for the Seventh Circuit, sitting by designation, held that: (1) cartoon characters were copyrightable; (2) defense of fair use was not available where the copying had been more exact than was necessary for the parodists' purposes; (3) First Amendment did not bar imposition of liability on parodists, but (4) record was not sufficient to justify summary judgment in favor of the holder on the issues of trademark infringement and unfair competition. Affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part.


Cartoon characters have physical atributes and are much more copyrightable than would characters in novels. This is because characters in novels are not usually depicted in as much detail as cartoon characters are.


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