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Week 7
  • 1 Three Boys Music v. Bolton (2000)

    1

    212 F.3d 477 (9th Cir. 2000)

    2
    THREE BOYS MUSIC CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee,
    v.
    MICHAEL BOLTON, individually and d/b/a MR. BOLTON'S MUSIC, INC.; ANDREW GOLDMARK; NON-PAREIL MUSIC, INC.; WARNER-CHAPPELL MUSIC LIMITED; WARNER TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP.; WB MUSIC CORP.; and SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT, INC., Defendants-Appellants.
    3

    Nos. 97-55150, 97-55154

    4

    UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

    5

    Argued and Submitted October 5, 1999
    Filed May 9, 2000

    6

    [480] COUNSEL: Robert G. Sugarman, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York, New York, for the defendants-appellants.

    7

    Russell J. Frackman, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, Los Angeles, California, for the defendant-appellant.

    8

    Pierce O'Donnell, O'Donnell & Shaeffer, Los Angeles, California, for the plaintiff-appellee.

    9

    John P. McNicholas, McNicholas & McNicholas, Los Angeles, California, for the plaintiff-appellee.

    10

    Louis Petrich, Leopold, Petrich, & Smith, Los Angeles, California, for amici, Recording Industry Association of America, Inc. and Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.

    11

    Appeals from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Lourdes G. Baird, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-92-01177 LGB

    12

    Before: Betty B. Fletcher, Dorothy W. Nelson, and Melvin Brunetti, Circuit

    13

    Judges.

    14
    OPINION
    15

    D.W. NELSON, Circuit Judge:

    16

    In 1994, a jury found that Michael Bolton's 1991 pop hit, "Love Is a Wonderful Thing," infringed on the copyright of a 1964 Isley Brothers' song of the same name. The district court denied Bolton's motion for a new trial and affirmed the jury's award of $5.4 million.

    17

    Bolton, his co-author, Andrew Goldmark, and their record companies ("Sony Music") appeal, arguing that the district court erred in finding that: (1) sufficient evidence supported the jury's finding that the appellants had access to the Isley Brothers' song; (2) sufficient evidence supported the jury's finding that the songs were substantially similar; (3) subject matter jurisdiction existed based on the Isley Brothers registering a complete copy of the song; (4) sufficient evidence supported the jury's attribution of profits to the infringing elements of the song; (5) Sony Music could not deduct its tax liability; and (6) the appellants' motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence was unwarranted.

    18

    We affirm.

    19
    I. BACKGROUND
    20

    The Isley Brothers, one of this country's most well-known rhythm and blues groups, have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They helped define the soul sound of the 1960s with songs such as "Shout," "Twist and Shout," and "This Old Heart of Mine," and they mastered the funky beats of the 1970s with songs such as "Who's That Lady, " "Fight the Power," and "It's Your Thing." In 1964, the Isley Brothers wrote and recorded "Love is a Wonderful Thing " for United Artists. The Isley Brothers received a copyright for "Love is a Wonderful Thing" from the Register of Copyrights on February 6, 1964. The following year, they switched to the famous Motown label and had three top-100 hits including "This Old Heart of Mine."

    21

    Hoping to benefit from the Isley Brothers' Motown success, United Artists released "Love is a Wonderful Thing" in 1966. The song was not released on an album, only on a 45record as a single. Several industry publications predicted that "Love is a Wonderful Thing" would be a hit -"Cash Box" on August 27, 1966, "Gavin Report" on August 26, 1966, and "Billboard" on September 10, 1966. On September 17, 1966, Billboard listed "Love is a Wonderful Thing" at number 110 in a chart titled "Bubbling Under the Hot 100. " The song was never listed on any other Top 100 charts. In 1991, the Isley Brothers' "Love is a Wonderful Thing" was released [481] on compact disc. See Isley Brothers, The Isley Brothers -The Complete UA Sessions, (EMI 1991).

    22

    Michael Bolton is a singer/songwriter who gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s by reviving the soul sound of the 1960s. Bolton has orchestrated this soul-music revival in part by covering old songs such as Percy Sledge's "When a Man Love a Woman" and Otis Redding's"(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay." Bolton also has written his own hit songs. In early 1990, Bolton and Goldmark wrote a song called "Love Is a Wonderful Thing." Bolton released it as a single in April 1991, and as part of Bolton's album,"Time, Love and Tenderness." Bolton's "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" finished 1991 at number 49 on Billboard's year-end pop chart.

    23

    On February 24, 1992, Three Boys Music Corporation filed a copyright infringement action for damages against the appellants under 17 U.S.C. SS 101 et seq. (1988). The parties agreed to a trifurcated trial. On April 25, 1994, in the first phase, the jury determined that the appellants had infringed the Isley Brothers' copyright. At the end of second phase five days later, the jury decided that Bolton's "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" accounted for 28 percent of the profits from "Time, Love and Tenderness." The jury also found that 66 percent of the profits from commercial uses of the song could be attributed to the inclusion of infringing elements. On May 9, 1994, the district court entered judgment in favor of the Isley Brothers based on the first two phases.

    24

    The deadline for post-trial motions was May 25, 1994. On that day, the appellants filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law and a motion for new trial. The district court denied the motions on August 11, 1994. On June 8, 1994, the appellants filed a second motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence on the issue of copyright ownership. The district court dismissed this motion as untimely.

    25

    On December 5, 1996, the district court adopted the findings of the Special Master's Amended Report about the allocation of damages (third phase). In the final judgment entered against the appellants, the district court ordered Sony Music to pay $4,218,838; Bolton to pay $932,924; Goldmark to pay $220,785; and their music publishing companies to pay $75,900. They timely appealed.

    26
    II. DISCUSSION
    27

    Proof of copyright infringement is often highly circumstantial, particularly in cases involving music. A copyright plaintiff must prove (1) ownership of the copyright; and (2) infringement -that the defendant copied protected elements of the plaintiff's work. See Smith v. Jackson , 84 F.3d 1213, 1218 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). Absent direct evidence of copying, proof of infringement involves fact-based showings that the defendant had "access" to the plaintiff's work and that the two works are "substantially similar." Id.

    28

    Given the difficulty of proving access and substantial similarity, appellate courts have been reluctant to reverse jury verdicts in music cases. See, e.g., id. at 1221 (affirming a jury's verdict for the defendants in a copyright infringement case involving Michael Jackson and other musicians); Gaste v. Kaiserman, 863 F.2d 1061, 1071 (2d Cir. 1988) (affirming a jury's damages award against a defendant in a music copyright infringement case). Judge Newman's opinion in Gaste nicely articulated the proper role for an appeals court in reviewing a jury verdict:

    29

    The guiding principle in deciding whether to overturn a jury verdict for insufficiency of the evidence is whether the evidence is such that, without weighing the credibility of the witnesses or otherwise considering the weight of the evidence, there can be but one conclusion as to the verdict that reasonable men could have reached.

    30

    Id. at 1066 (internal quotations omitted). In Arnstein v. Porter, the seminal case [482] about musical copyright infringement, Judge Jerome Frank wrote:

    31

    Each of these two issues - copying and improper appropriation - is an issue of fact. If there is a trial, the conclusions on those issues of the trier of the facts - of the judge if he sat without a jury, or of the jury if there was a jury trial - bind this court on appeal, provided the evidence supports those findings, regardless of whether we would ourselves have reached the same conclusions.

    32

    Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464, 469 (2d Cir. 1946).

    33

    As a general matter, the standard for reviewing jury verdicts is whether they are supported by "substantial evidence" -that is, such relevant evidence as reasonable minds might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See Poppell v. City of San Diego, 149 F.3d 951, 962 (9th Cir. 1998). The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury and is generally not subject to appellate review. See Gilbrook v. City of Westminster, 177 F.3d 839, 856 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 120 S. Ct. 614 (1999).

    34

    We affirm the jury's verdict in this case in light of the standard of review and copyright law's "guiding principles." Although we will address each of the appellant's arguments in turn, we focus on access because it is the most difficult issue in this case. Our decision is predicated on judicial deference -finding that the law has been properly applied in this case, viewing the facts most favorably to the appellees, and not substituting our judgment for that of the jury.

    35
    A. Access
    36

    Proof of access requires "an opportunity to view or to copy plaintiff's work." Sid and Marty Krofft Television Prods., Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 562 F.2d 1157, 1172 (9th Cir. 1977). This is often described as providing a "reasonable opportunity" or "reasonable possibility" of viewing the plaintiff's work. 4 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright, S 13.02[A], at 13-19 (1999); Jason v. Fonda, 526 F. Supp. 774, 775 (C.D. Cal. 1981), aff'd , 698 F.2d 966 (9th Cir. 1983). We have defined reasonable access as "more than a `bare possibility.' " Jason, 698 F.2d at 967. Nimmer has elaborated on our definition: "Of course, reasonable opportunity as here used, does not encompass any bare possibility in the sense that anything is possible. Access may not be inferred through mere speculation or conjecture. There must be a reasonable possibility of viewing the plaintiff's work -not a bare possibility." 4 Nimmer,S 13.02[A], at 1319. "At times, distinguishing a `bare' possibility from a `reasonable' possibility will present a close question. " Id. at 1320.

    37

    Circumstantial evidence of reasonable access is proven in one of two ways: (1) a particular chain of events is established between the plaintiff's work and the defendant's access to that work (such as through dealings with a publisher or record company), or (2) the plaintiff's work has been widely disseminated. See 4 Nimmer, S 13.02[A], at 13-20-13-21; 2 Paul Goldstein, Copyright: Principles, Law, and Practice S 8.3.1.1., at 90-91 (1989). Goldstein remarks that in music cases the "typically more successful route to proving access requires the plaintiff to show that its work was widely disseminated through sales of sheet music, records, and radio performances." 2 Goldstein, S 8.3.1.1, at 91. Nimmer, however, cautioned that "[c]oncrete cases will pose difficult judgments as to where along the access spectrum a given exploitation falls." 4 Nimmer, S 13.02[A], at 13-22.

    38

    Proof of widespread dissemination is sometimes accompanied by a theory that copyright infringement of a popular song was subconscious. Subconscious copying has been accepted since Learned Hand embraced it in a 1924 music infringement case: "Everything registers somewhere in our memories, and no one can tell what [483] may evoke it . . . . Once it appears that another has in fact used the copyright as the source of this production, he has invaded the author's rights. It is no excuse that in so doing his memory has played him a trick." Fred Fisher, Inc. v. Dillingham, 298 F. 145, 147-48 (S.D.N.Y. 1924). In Fred Fisher, Judge Hand found that the similarities between the songs "amount[ed] to identity" and that the infringement had occurred "probably unconsciously, what he had certainly often heard only a short time before." Id. at 147.

    39

    In modern cases, however, the theory of subconscious copying has been applied to songs that are more remote in time. ABKCO Music, Inc v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 722 F.2d 988 (2d Cir. 1983) is the most prominent example. In ABKCO, the Second Circuit affirmed a jury's verdict that former Beatle George Harrison, in writing the song "My Sweet Lord," subconsciously copied The Chiffons' "He's So Fine," which was released six years earlier. See id. at 997, 999. Harrison admitted hearing "He's So Fine" in 1963, when it was number one on the Billboard charts in the United States for five weeks and one of the top 30 hits in England for seven weeks. See id. at 998. The court found:"the evidence, standing alone, `by no means compels the conclusion that there was access . . . it does not compel the conclusion that there was not.' " Id. (quoting Heim v. Universal Pictures Co., 154 F.2d 480, 487 (2d Cir. 1946)). In ABKCO, however, the court found that "the similarity was so striking and where access was found, the remoteness of that access provides no basis for reversal." Id. Furthermore, "the mere lapse of a considerable period of time between the moment of access and the creation of defendant's work does not preclude a finding of copying." 4 Nimmer, S 13.02[A], at 13-20 (citing ABKCO, 722 F.2d at 997-98).

    40

    The Isley Brothers' access argument was based on a theory of widespread dissemination and subconscious copying. They presented evidence supporting four principal ways that Bolton and Goldmark could have had access to the Isley Brothers' "Love is a Wonderful Thing":

    41

    (1) Bolton grew up listening to groups such as the Isley Brothers and singing their songs. In 1966, Bolton and Goldmark were 13 and 15, respectively, growing up in Connecticut. Bolton testified that he had been listening to rhythm and blues music by black singers since he was 10 or 11,"appreciated a lot of Black singers," and as a youth was the lead singer in a band that performed "covers" of popular songs by black singers. Bolton also testified that his brother had a "pretty good record collection."

    42

    (2) Three disk jockeys testified that the Isley Brothers' song was widely disseminated on radio and television stations where Bolton and Goldmark grew up. First, Jerry Blavitt testified that the Isley Brothers' "Love is a Wonderful Thing" was played five or six times during a 13-week period on the television show, "The Discophonic Scene," which he said aired in Philadelphia, New York, and Hartford-New Haven. Blavitt also testified that he played the song two to three times a week as a disk jockey in Philadelphia and that the station is still playing the song today. Second, Earl Rodney Jones testified that he played the song a minimum of four times a day during an eight to 14 to 24 week period on WVON radio in Chicago, and that the station is still playing the song today. Finally, Jerry Bledsoe testified that he played the song on WUFO radio in Buffalo, and WWRL radio in New York was playing the song in New York in 1967 when he went there. Bledsoe also testified that he played the song twice on a television show, "Soul," which aired in New York and probably in New Haven, Connecticut, where Bolton lived.

    43

    (3) Bolton confessed to being a huge fan of the Isley Brothers and a collector of their music. Ronald Isley testified that when Bolton saw Isley at the Lou Rawls United Negro College Fund Benefit concert in 1988, Bolton said,"I know this guy.[484] I go back with him. I have all his stuff. " Angela Winbush, Isley's wife, testified about that meeting that Bolton said, "This man needs no introduction. I know everything he's done."

    44

    (4) Bolton wondered if he and Goldmark were copying a song by another famous soul singer. Bolton produced a work tape attempting to show that he and Goldmark independently created their version of "Love Is a Wonderful Thing." On that tape of their recording session, Bolton asked Goldmark if the song they were composing was Marvin Gaye's "Some Kind of Wonderful."[1] The district court, in affirming the jury's verdict, wrote about Bolton's Marvin Gaye remark:

    45

    This statement suggests that Bolton was contemplating the possibility that the work he and Goldmark were creating, or at least a portion of it, belonged to someone else, but that Bolton wasn't sure who it belonged to. A reasonable jury can infer that Bolton mistakenly attributed the work to Marvin Gaye, when in reality Bolton was subconsciously drawing on Plaintiff's song.

    46

    The appellants contend that the Isley Brothers' theory of access amounts to a "twenty-five-years-after-the-factsubconscious copying claim." Indeed, this is a more attenuated case of reasonable access and subconscious copying than ABKCO. In this case, the appellants never admitted hearing the Isley Brothers' "Love is a Wonderful Thing. " That song never topped the Billboard charts or even made the top 100 for a single week. The song was not released on an album or compact disc until 1991, a year after Bolton and Goldmark wrote their song. Nor did the Isley Brothers ever claim that Bolton's and Goldmark's song is so "strikingly similar" to the Isley Brothers' that proof of access is presumed and need not be proven.

    47

    Despite the weaknesses of the Isley Brothers' theory of reasonable access, the appellants had a full opportunity to present their case to the jury. Three rhythm and blues experts (including legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier of Holland-Dozier-Holland fame) testified that they never heard of the Isley Brothers' "Love is a Wonderful Thing." Furthermore, Bolton produced copies of "TV Guide" from 1966 suggesting that the television shows playing the song never aired in Connecticut. Bolton also pointed out that 129 songs called "Love is a Wonderful Thing" are registered with the Copyright Office, 85 of them before 1964.

    48

    The Isley Brothers' reasonable access arguments are not without merit. Teenagers are generally avid music listeners. It is entirely plausible that two Connecticut teenagers obsessed with rhythm and blues music could remember an Isley Brothers' song that was played on the radio and television for a few weeks, and subconsciously copy it twenty years later. Furthermore, Ronald Isley testified that when they met, Bolton said, "I have all his stuff." Finally, as the district court pointed out, Bolton's remark about Marvin Gaye and "Some Kind of Wonderful" indicates that Bolton believed he may have been copying someone else's song.

    49

    Finally, with regard to access, we are mindful of Judge Frank's words of caution in Arnstein v. Porter: "The judge characterized plaintiff's story as `fantastic'; and in the light of the references in his opinion to defendant's deposition, the judge obviously accepted the defendant's denial of access and copying . . . . [Y]et plaintiff's credibility, even as to those improbabilities, should be left to the jury." Arnstein, 154 F.2d at 469. In this case, Judge Baird heeded Judge Frank's admonition:

    50

    [T]his Court is not in a position to find that the only conclusion that a reasonable jury could have reached is that [485] Defendants did not have access to Plaintiff's song. One must remember that the issue this Court must address is not whether Plaintiff has proven access by a preponderance of evidence, but whether reasonable minds could find that Defendants had a reasonable opportunity to have heard Plaintiff's song before they created their own song.

    51

    Although we might not reach the same conclusion as the jury regarding access, we find that the jury's conclusion about access is supported by substantial evidence. We are not establishing a new standard for access in copyright cases; we are merely saying that we will not disturb the jury's factual and credibility determinations on this issue.

    52
    B. Substantial Similarity
    53

    Under our case law, substantial similarity is inextricably linked to the issue of access. In what is known as the "inverse ratio rule," we "require a lower standard of proof of substantial similarity when a high degree of access is shown." Smith, 84 F.3d at 1218 (citing Shaw v. Lindheim, 919 F.2d 1353, 1361-62 (9th Cir. 1990); Krofft, 562 F.2d at 1172). Furthermore, in the absence of any proof of access, a copyright plaintiff can still make out a case of infringement by showing that the songs were "strikingly similar." See Smith, 84 F.3d at 1220; Baxter v. MCA, Inc., 812 F.2d 421, 423, 424 n.2 (9th Cir. 1987).

    54

    Proof of the substantial similarity is satisfied by a twopart test of extrinsic similarity and intrinsic similarity. See Krofft, 562 F.2d at 1164. Initially, the extrinsic test requires that the plaintiff identify concrete elements based on objective criteria. See Smith, 84 F.3d at 1218; Shaw, 919 F.2d at 1356. The extrinsic test often requires analytical dissection of a work and expert testimony. See Apple Computer, Inc v. Microsoft Corp., 35 F.3d 1435, 1442 (9th Cir. 1994). Once the extrinsic test is satisfied, the factfinder applies the intrinsic test. The intrinsic test is subjective and asks "whether the ordinary, reasonable person would find the total concept and feel of the works to be substantially similar." Pasillas v. McDonald's Corp., 927 F.2d 440, 442 (9th Cir. 1991) (internal quotations omitted).

    55

    We will not second-guess the jury's application of the intrinsic test. See Krofft 562 F.3d at 1166 ("Since the intrinsic test for expression is uniquely suited for determination by the trier of fact, this court must be reluctant to reverse it.") (citations omitted). Furthermore, we will not reverse factual determinations regarding the extrinsic test absent a clearly erroneous application of the law. See id. It is well settled that a jury may find a combination of unprotectible elements to be protectible under the extrinsic test because " `the over-all impact and effect indicate substantial appropriation.' " Id. at 1169 (quoting Malkin v. Dubinsky, 146 F. Supp. 111, 114 (S.D.N.Y. 1956)).

    56
    1. Evidence of Substantial Similarity
    57

    Bolton and Goldmark argue that there was insufficient evidence of substantial similarity because the Isley Brothers' expert musicologist, Dr. Gerald Eskelin, failed to show that there was copying of a combination of unprotectible elements. On the contrary, Eskelin testified that the two songs shared a combination of five unprotectible elements: (1) the title hook phrase (including the lyric, rhythm, and pitch); (2) the shifted cadence; (3) the instrumental figures; (4) the verse/chorus relationship; and (5) the fade ending. Although the appellants presented testimony from their own expert musicologist, Anthony Ricigliano, he conceded that there were similarities between the two songs and that he had not found the combination of unprotectible elements in the Isley Brothers' song "anywhere in the prior art." The jury heard testimony from both of these experts and "found infringement based on a unique compilation of those elements." We refuse to interfere with the jury's credibility determination, nor do we find [486] that the jury's finding of substantial similarity was clearly erroneous.

    58
    2. Independent Creation
    59

    Bolton and Goldmark also contend that their witnesses rebutted the Isley Brothers' prima facie case of copyright infringement with evidence of independent creation. By establishing reasonable access and substantial similarity, a copyright plaintiff creates a presumption of copying. The burden shifts to the defendant to rebut that presumption through proof of independent creation. See Granite Music Corp. v. United Artists Corp., 532 F.2d 718, 721 (9th Cir. 1976).

    60

    The appellants' case of independent creation hinges on three factors: the work tape demonstrating how Bolton and Goldmark created their song, Bolton and Goldmark's history of songwriting, and testimony that their arranger, Walter Afanasieff, contributed two of five unprotectible elements that they allegedly copied. The jury, however, heard the testimony of Bolton, Goldmark, Afanasieff, and Ricigliano about independent creation. The work tape revealed evidence that Bolton may have subconsciously copied a song that he believed to be written by Marvin Gaye. Bolton and Goldmark's history of songwriting presents no direct evidence about this case. And Afanasieff's contributions to Bolton and Goldmark's song were described by the appellants' own expert as "very common." Once again, we refuse to disturb the jury's determination about independent creation. The substantial evidence of copying based on access and substantial similarity was such that a reasonable juror could reject this defense.

    61
    3. Inverse-Ratio Rule
    62

    Although this may be a weak case of access and a circumstantial case of substantial similarity, neither issue warrants reversal of the jury's verdict. An amicus brief on behalf of the recording and motion picture industries warns against watering down the requirements for musical copyright infringement. This case presents no such danger. The Ninth Circuit's inverse-ratio rule requires a lesser showing of substantial similarity if there is a strong showing of access. See Smith, 84 F.3d at 1218. In this case, there was a weak showing of access. We have never held, however, that the inverse ratio rule says a weak showing of access requires a stronger showing of substantial similarity. Nor are we redefining the test of substantial similarity here; we merely find that there was substantial evidence from which the jury could find access and substantial similarity in this case.

    63
    C. Sufficiency of the Deposit Copy
    64

    The appellants argue that the district court did not have jurisdiction over this case because the Isley Brothers failed to register a complete copy of the song upon which the lawsuit was based. Although the 1909 Copyright Act requires the owner to deposit a "complete copy" of the work with the copyright office, our definition of a "complete copy" is broad and deferential: "Absent intent to defraud and prejudice, inaccuracies in copyright registrations do not bar actions for infringement." Harris v. Emus Records Corp. , 734 F.2d 1329, 1335 (9th Cir. 1984) (citations omitted).

    65

    Bolton and Goldmark argue that in 1964 the Isley Brothers deposited sheet music ("deposit copy") of "Love is a Wonderful Thing" that differed from the recorded version of the song. Furthermore, they claimed that the deposit copy does not include the majority of the musical elements that were part of the infringement claim. At trial, the Isley Brothers' expert, Dr. Eskelin, testified that the deposit copy included all of the song's essential elements such as the title hook, chorus, and pitches. Dr. Eskelin even played the deposit copy for the jury on the keyboard. We refuse to disturb the jury's finding that the Isley Brothers deposited a "complete copy " because (1) there was no intent to defraud and prejudice and (2) any inaccuracies [487] in the deposit copy were minor and do not bar the infringement action.

    66
    D. Attribution of Profits
    67

    Sony Music claims that the district court improperly applied an assumption that all profits from Bolton and Goldmark's song go to the Isley Brothers, and that no evidence supported the jury's apportionment of profits. A successful copyright plaintiff is allowed to recover only those profits that are "attributable to infringement." 17 U.S.C.S 504(b) (1994). "In establishing the infringer's profits, the copyright owner is required to present proof only of the infringer's gross revenue, and the infringer is required to prove his or her deductible expenses and the elements of profit attributable to factors other than the copyrighted work." Id. See also Cream Records, Inc. v. Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co., 754 F.2d 826, 828 (9th Cir. 1985) (holding that when all profits do not clearly derive from the infringing material, the copyright owner is not entitled to recover all of the profits); Gaste , 863 F.2d at 1070 (finding that where there is "imprecision in the computation of expenses, a court should err on the side of guaranteeing the plaintiff a full recovery"). Thus, the statutory burden of proof lies with Sony Music to prove what percentage of their profits were not attributable to copying the Isley Brothers'"Love is a Wonderful Thing."

    68

    Sony Music presented evidence that Bolton's "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" produced only 5-10% of the profits from his album, "Time, Love and Tenderness," and that the song's infringing elements resulted in only 10-15% of the profits from the song. The Isley Brothers, however, attacked the credibility of one of Sony Music's experts. Furthermore, they presented evidence that Bolton's infringing song was the album's lead single, that it was released 19 days before the album, and that Bolton engaged in telephone promotion of the song. The jury found that 28% of the album's profits derived from the song, and that 66% of the song's profits resulted from infringing elements.

    69

    We affirm the jury's apportionment of the profits for several reasons. First, the jury instructions adequately conveyed the burden of proof. Second, the burden of proof was on Sony Music, and the jury chose not to believe Sony Music's experts. Finally, a jury verdict apportioning less than 100% of the profits but more than the percentage estimates of Sony Music's experts does not represent clear error.

    70
    E. Deduction of Tax Liability
    71

    Sony Music also argues that the district court erred in allowing Bolton and Goldmark, but not Sony Music, to deduct income taxes due to profits from the album. Whether income taxes are considered "deductible expenses " under S 504(b) is an issue of first impression in this circuit. The Supreme Court held that willful infringers could not deduct income taxes, but it left open the possibility that non-willful infringers could deduct their income taxes from the infringing profits. See L.P. Larson, Jr., Co. v. Wm. Wrigley, Jr., Co., 277 U.S. 97, 99-100 (1928). The circuits are split over whether non-willful infringers such as Bolton, Goldmark, and Sony Music can deduct income taxes from their infringing profits. Compare In Design v. K-Mart Apparel Corp., 13 F.3d 559, 567 (2d Cir. 1994) (allowing the deduction of income taxes) with Schnadig Corp. v. Gaines Mfg. Co., Inc., 620 F.2d 1166, 1169-70 (6th Cir. 1980) (not allowing the deduction of income taxes).

    72

    The Second Circuit allowed the deduction of income taxes because if infringers are liable for pre-tax profits, they may end up paying more money than they ever received. See In Design, 13 F.3d at 567. Under the Second Circuit's rule, the infringer receives a windfall by (1) paying a smaller damages award and (2) deducting the entire, pre-tax award from gross income on a subsequent tax return. The Sixth Circuit rejected the deduction of income taxes because the increased pre-tax [488] profits paid to the copyright holder will be balanced out by an eventual tax refund based on the pre-tax award. See Schnadig, 620 F.2d at 1169-70. Under the Sixth Circuit's rule, the copyright holder receives a windfall by receiving a larger, pre-tax award.

    73

    During the third phase of this trial, the district court adopted the findings of the special master's report regarding the deduction of income taxes. The district court followed the Second Circuit rule and allowed Bolton and Goldmark, as non-willful infringers, to deduct the income taxes and management fees that they paid relating to the infringing song. The district court, however, refused to allow Sony Music to deduct its Net Operating Loss Carry-forward (NOL) because the NOL did not have a "concrete financial impact."

    74

    We uphold the district court's decision to allow non-willful infringers to deduct income taxes, but not NOL. In this case, Bolton and Goldmark actually paid income taxes and management fees on the infringing profits. Sony Music, however, never actually paid income taxes on its infringing profits. Rather, Sony Music claimed it offset nearly $1.7 million in taxes on the infringing profits against its parent company's NOL. No court has ever found that NOL is a deductible expense under S 504(b). Furthermore, we find that the district court's distinctions between taxes actually paid and taxes not actually paid was a fair one. Thus, we affirm the district court's calculation of a $4,218,838 damages award against Sony Music.

    75
    F. Second New Trial Motion
    76

    Finally, Bolton and Goldmark claim that the district court erred in rejecting their second motion for new trial. The district court's denial of a motion for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. See Browning-Ferris Indus. v. Kelco Disposal, Inc., 492 U.S. 257, 278 (1989); Scott v. Ross, 140 F.3d 1275, 1281 (9th Cir. 1998). The abuse of discretion standard applies particularly when the district court's denial is based on the motion's untimeliness. See E. & J. Gallo Winery v. Gallo Cattle Co., 967 F.2d 1280, 1294-96 (9th Cir. 1992).

    77

    Bolton and Goldmark's second motion for a new trial was based on the discovery of new evidence that disputed the Isley Brothers' claim of authorship. A day before the deadline for post-trial motions, the appellees discovered evidence alleging that the Turkcords, a group that played with the Isley Brothers in the mid-1960s, claimed to have written the 1964 song, "Love is a Wonderful Thing." Bolton and Goldmark did not immediately notify the district court of this new evidence. Instead, fourteen days after the deadline for post-trial motions had passed, they filed an additional motion for new trial. The district court rejected the second motion for new trial as untimely filed.

    78

    We affirm the district court's denial of the second motion for new trial because the evidence, if true, goes at most to the weight and credibility of the evidence before the jury. At trial, Ronald Isley claimed to have written the song with the deceased guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix. (As a young man, Hendrix played in the Isley Brothers' band.) The Turkcords' claims of authorship are dubious for several reasons. The Turkcords knew about the re-release of "Love is a Wonderful Thing" by United Artists in 1991, yet they claimed that the Isley Brothers had agreed to share the song's royalties with them only after hearing about the damages award in this case on "Inside Edition." Furthermore, Bolton and Goldmark knew about this new evidence before the deadline for the post-trial motions, yet they did not immediately notify the district court.

    79

    Even if the Turkcords' claims of authorship are true, a new trial is not warranted in the interests of justice because the Isley Brothers' copyright ownership is not jeopardized. Registration is [489] prima facie evidence of the validity of a copyright. See 17 U.S.C. S 410(c) (1994). This presumption can be rebutted by the defendant's showing that the plaintiff's work is not original. See North Coast Indus. v. Jason Maxwell, Inc., 972 F.2d 1031, 1033 (9th Cir. 1992). North Coast 's definition of originality is broad: " `All that is needed to satisfy both the Constitution and the statute is that the "author " contributed something more than a "merely trivial" variation, something recognizably "his own." Originality in this context means "little more than a prohibition of actual copying." ' " Id. (quoting Krofft, 562 F.2d at 1163 n.5 (quoting Alfred Bell & Co. v. Catalda Fine Arts, 191 F.2d 99, 102-03 (2d Cir. 1951))). See also Kamar Int'l Inc. v. Russ Berrie and Co., 657 F.2d 1059, 1061 (9th Cir. 1981) (employing a broad definition of originality relating to toy stuffed animals).

    80

    In this case, the Isley Brothers undoubtedly contributed something original to "Love is a Wonderful Thing. " Their proteges, the Turkcords, purportedly wrote the song, then gave the Isley Brothers' permission to record it after the voice of the Turkcords' lead singer allegedly "cracked. " Members of the Turkcords allegedly sang back-up on the record. Yet the Turkcords never copyrighted their song. They relied on the Isley Brothers' alleged promise to share the royalties with them.

    81

    The district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Bolton and Goldmark's second motion for a new trial based on this evidence. The Turkcords' claims of authorship would not have affected the outcome of the case and at most go to the weight and credibility of the evidence. Bolton and Goldmark's second motion was a last-ditch attempt to discredit the jury's verdict. The district court heard all of the evidence in this case, instructed the jury on the applicable law, yet refused to reverse the jury's verdict pursuant to motion for a judgment as a matter of law. Having found that the law was properly applied in this case, we leave the district court's decisions and the jury's credibility determinations undisturbed.

    82

    AFFIRMED.

    83

    [1] Marvin Gaye also referred to the song's chorus, "She's some kind of wonderful," in his song, "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby." See Marvin Gaye, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, on MPG, (Motown 1969). 

  • 2 Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries (1987)

    1

    663 F.Supp. 706 (1987)

    2
    Saul STEINBERG, Plaintiff,
    v.
    COLUMBIA PICTURES INDUSTRIES, INC.; RCA Corporation; Diener Hauser Bates Co., Inc.; Columbia Pictures International Corporation; Columbia Pictures Home Video, Inc.; RCA International Audio-Visuals, Inc.; CPT Holdings, Inc.; Gold Col Productions, Inc.; RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video; RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video; the New York Times Company; New York News, Inc.; Newsday, Inc.; News Group Publications, Inc.; the Times Mirror Company; the Hearst Corporation; Chicago Tribune Company; Field Enterprises, Inc.; the Washington Post Co.; A.H. Belo Corporation; Globe Newspaper Company; Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc.; A.S. Abell Publishing Co.; and Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Inc., Defendants.
    Saul STEINBERG, Plaintiff,
    v.
    COLUMBIA-DELPHI PRODUCTIONS, Columbia-Delphi Productions II, Delphi Film Associates, Delphi Film Associates II, News Group Boston, Inc., and News Group Chicago, Inc., Defendants.

    Nos. 84 Civ. 9208 (LLS), 87 Civ. 1750 (LLS).

    3

    United States District Court, S.D. New York.

    June 24, 1987.

    4

    [707] [708] Rembar & Curtis, New York City, for plaintiff; Charles Rembar, Frank R. Curtis, Mark W. Budwig, of counsel.

    5

    Pryor, Cashman, Sherman & Flynn, New York City, for defendants; Stephen F. Huff, Philip R. Hoffman, Tom J. Ferber, of counsel.

    6
    OPINION AND ORDER
    7
    STANTON, District Judge.
    8

    In these actions for copyright infringement, plaintiff Saul Steinberg is suing the producers, promoters, distributors and advertisers of the movie "Moscow on the Hudson" ("Moscow"). Steinberg is an artist whose fame derives in part from cartoons and illustrations he has drawn for The New Yorker magazine. Defendant Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (Columbia) is in the business of producing, promoting and distributing motion pictures, including "Moscow." Defendant RCA Corporation (RCA) was involved with Columbia in promoting and distributing the home video version of "Moscow," and defendant Diener Hauser Bates Co. (DHB) acted as an advertising agent for "Moscow." The other defendants were added to the complaint pursuant to a memorandum decision of this court dated November 17, 1986. These defendants fall into two categories: (1) affiliates of Columbia and RCA that were involved in the distribution of "Moscow" here and/or abroad, and (2) owners of major newspapers that published the allegedly infringing advertisement.

    9

    The defendants in the second-captioned action either are joint ventures affiliated with Columbia or are newspapers that published the allegedly infringing advertisement for "Moscow." This action was consolidated with the first by stipulation dated April 3, 1987.

    10

    Plaintiff alleges that defendants' promotional poster for "Moscow" infringes his copyright on an illustration that he drew [709] for The New Yorker and that appeared on the cover of the March 29, 1976 issue of the magazine, in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 101-810. Defendants deny this allegation and assert the affirmative defenses of fair use as a parody, estoppel and laches.

    11

    Defendants have moved, and plaintiff has cross-moved, for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, this court rejects defendants' asserted defenses and grants summary judgment on the issue of copying to plaintiff.

    12
    I
    13

    To grant summary judgment, Fed.R. Civ.P. 56 requires a court to find that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." In reaching its decision, the court must "assess whether there are any factual issues to be tried, while resolving ambiguities and drawing reasonable inferences against the moving party." Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir.1986), citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-11, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

    14

    Summary judgment is often disfavored in copyright cases, for courts are generally reluctant to make subjective comparisons and determinations. Hoehling v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 618 F.2d 972, 977 (2d Cir.1980), citing Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464, 474 (2d Cir.1946). Recently, however, this circuit has "recognized that a court may determine non-infringement as a matter of law on a motion for summary judgment." Warner Brothers v. American Broadcasting Cos., 720 F.2d 231, 240 (2d Cir.1983), quoting Durham Industries, Inc. v. Tomy Corp., 630 F.2d 905, 918 (2d Cir.1980). See also Hoehling, 618 F.2d at 977; Walker v. Time-Life Films, Inc., 615 F.Supp. 430, 434 (S.D.N.Y. 1985), aff'd, 784 F.2d 44 (2d Cir.1986), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 106 S.Ct. 2278, 90 L.Ed.2d 721 (1986). "When the evidence is so overwhelming that a court would be justified in ordering a directed verdict at trial, it is proper to grant summary judgment." Silverman v. CBS Inc., 632 F.Supp. 1344, 1352 (S.D.N.Y.1986) (awarding summary judgment to defendant on counterclaim of copyright infringement).

    15

    The voluminous submissions that accompanied these cross-motions leave no factual issues concerning which further evidence is likely to be presented at a trial. Moreover, the factual determinations necessary to this decision do not involve conflicts in testimony that would depend for their resolution on an assessment of witness credibility. In addition, this case is different from most copyright infringement actions, in which it is preferable to leave the determination of the issue to a jury: each party has implied that its case is complete by moving for summary judgment, and as neither side has requested a jury, the court would be the trier of fact at trial. Finally, the interests of judicial economy are also served by deciding the case at its present stage. Summary judgment is therefore appropriate.

    16
    II
    17

    The essential facts are not disputed by the parties despite their disagreements on nonessential matters. On March 29, 1976, The New Yorker published as a cover illustration the work at issue in this suit, widely known as a parochial New Yorker's view of the world. The magazine registered this illustration with the United States Copyright Office and subsequently assigned the copyright to Steinberg. Approximately three months later, plaintiff and The New Yorker entered into an agreement to print and sell a certain number of posters of the cover illustration.

    18

    It is undisputed that unauthorized duplications of the poster were made and distributed by unknown persons, although the parties disagree on the extent to which plaintiff attempted to prevent the distribution of those counterfeits. Plaintiff has also conceded that numerous posters have been created and published depicting other localities in the same manner that he depicted New York in his illustration. These facts, however, are irrelevant to the merits of this case, which concerns only the relationship [710] between plaintiff's and defendants' illustrations.

    19

    Defendants' illustration was created to advertise the movie "Moscow on the Hudson," which recounts the adventures of a Muscovite who defects in New York. In designing this illustration, Columbia's executive art director, Kevin Nolan, has admitted that he specifically referred to Steinberg's poster, and indeed, that he purchased it and hung it, among others, in his office. Furthermore, Nolan explicitly directed the outside artist whom he retained to execute his design, Craig Nelson, to use Steinberg's poster to achieve a more recognizably New York look. Indeed, Nelson acknowledged having used the facade of one particular edifice, at Nolan's suggestion that it would render his drawing more "New York-ish." Curtis Affidavit ¶ 28(c). While the two buildings are not identical, they are so similar that it is impossible, especially in view of the artist's testimony, not to find that defendants' impermissibly copied plaintiff's.[1]

    20

    To decide the issue of infringement, it is necessary to consider the posters themselves. Steinberg's illustration presents a bird's eye view across a portion of the western edge of Manhattan, past the Hudson River and a telescoped version of the rest of the United States and the Pacific Ocean, to a red strip of horizon, beneath which are three flat land masses labeled China, Japan and Russia. The name of the magazine, in The New Yorker's usual typeface, occupies the top fifth of the poster, beneath a thin band of blue wash representing a stylized sky.

    21

    The parts of the poster beyond New York are minimalized, to symbolize a New Yorker's myopic view of the centrality of his city to the world. The entire United States west of the Hudson River, for example, is reduced to a brown strip labeled "Jersey," together with a light green trapezoid with a few rudimentary rock outcroppings and the names of only seven cities and two states scattered across it. The few blocks of Manhattan, by contrast, are depicted and colored in detail. The four square blocks of the city, which occupy the whole lower half of the poster, include numerous buildings, pedestrians and cars, as well as parking lots and lamp posts, with water towers atop a few of the buildings. The whimsical, sketchy style and spiky lettering are recognizable as Steinberg's.

    22

    The "Moscow" illustration depicts the three main characters of the film on the lower third of their poster, superimposed on a bird's eye view of New York City, and continues eastward across Manhattan and the Atlantic Ocean, past a rudimentary evocation of Europe, to a clump of recognizably Russian-styled buildings on the horizon, labeled "Moscow." The movie credits appear over the lower portion of the characters. The central part of the poster depicts approximately four New York city blocks, with fairly detailed buildings, pedestrians and vehicles, a parking lot, and some water towers and lamp posts. Columbia's artist added a few New York landmarks at apparently random places in his illustration, apparently to render the locale more easily recognizable. Beyond the blue strip labeled "Atlantic Ocean," Europe is represented by London, Paris and Rome, each anchored by a single landmark (although the landmark used for Rome is the Leaning Tower of Pisa).

    23

    The horizon behind Moscow is delineated by a red crayoned strip, above which are the title of the movie and a brief textual introduction to the plot. The poster is crowned by a thin strip of blue wash, apparently a stylization of the sky. This poster is executed in a blend of styles: the three characters, whose likenesses were copied from a photograph, have realistic faces and somewhat sketchy clothing, and the city blocks are drawn in a fairly detailed but sketchy style. The lettering on the drawing is spiky, in block-printed handwritten capital letters substantially identical to plaintiff's, while the printed texts at the top and bottom of the poster are in the [711] typeface commonly associated with The New Yorker magazine.[2]

    24
    III
    25

    To succeed in a copyright infringement action, a plaintiff must prove ownership of the copyright and copying by the defendant. Reyher v. Children's Television Workshop, 533 F.2d 87, 90 (2d Cir.1976); Durham Industries, 630 F.2d at 911; Novelty Textile Mills, Inc. v. Joan Fabrics Corp., 558 F.2d 1090, 1092 (2d Cir.1977). There is no substantial dispute concerning plaintiff's ownership of a valid copyright in his illustration. Therefore, in order to prevail on liability, plaintiff need establish only the second element of the cause of action.

    26

    "Because of the inherent difficulty in obtaining direct evidence of copying, it is usually proved by circumstantial evidence of access to the copyrighted work and substantial similarities as to protectible material in the two works." Reyher, 533 F.2d at 90, citing Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d 464, 468 (2d Cir.1946). See also Novelty Textile Mills, 558 F.2d at 1092. "Of course, if there are no similarities, no amount of evidence of access will suffice to prove copying." Arnstein v. Porter, 154 F.2d at 468. See also Novelty Textile Mills, 558 F.2d at 1092 n. 2.

    27

    Defendants' access to plaintiff's illustration is established beyond peradventure. Therefore, the sole issue remaining with respect to liability is whether there is such substantial similarity between the copyrighted and accused works as to establish a violation of plaintiff's copyright. The central issue of "substantial similarity," which can be considered a close question of fact, may also validly be decided as a question of law. Berkic v. Crichton, 761 F.2d 1289, 1292 (9th Cir.1985), citing Sid & Marty Krofft Television Productions, Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 562 F.2d 1157 (9th Cir.1977).

    28

    "Substantial similarity" is an elusive concept. This circuit has recently recognized that

    29

    [t]he "substantial similarity" that supports an inference of copying sufficient to establish infringement of a copyright is not a concept familiar to the public at large. It is a term to be used in a courtroom to strike a delicate balance between the protection to which authors are entitled under an act of Congress and the freedom that exists for all others to create their works outside the area protected by infringement.

    30

    Warner Bros., 720 F.2d at 245.

    31

    The definition of "substantial similarity" in this circuit is "whether an average lay observer would recognize the alleged copy as having been appropriated from the copyrighted work." Ideal Toy Corp. v. Fab-Lu Ltd., 360 F.2d 1021, 1022 (2d Cir.1966); Silverman v. CBS, Inc., 632 F.Supp. at 1351-52. A plaintiff need no longer meet the severe "ordinary observer" test established by Judge Learned Hand in Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487 (2d Cir.1960). Uneeda Doll Co., Inc. v. Regent Baby Products Corp., 355 F.Supp. 438, 450 (E.D.N.Y.1972). Under Judge Hand's formulation, there would be substantial similarity only where "the ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard their aesthetic appeal as the same." 274 F.2d at 489.

    32

    Moreover, it is now recognized that "[t]he copying need not be of every detail so long as the copy is substantially similar to the copyrighted work." Comptone Co. v. Rayex Corp., 251 F.2d 487, 488 (2d Cir. 1958). See also Durham Industries, 630 F.2d at 911-12; Novelty Textile Mills, 558 F.2d at 1092-93.

    33

    In determining whether there is substantial similarity between two works, it is crucial to distinguish between an idea and its expression. It is an axiom of copyright law, established in the case law and since codified at 17 U.S.C. § 102(b), that only the [712] particular expression of an idea is protectible, while the idea itself is not. See, e.g., Durham Industries, 630 F.2d at 912; Reyher, 533 F.2d at 90, citing Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217, 74 S.Ct. 460, 470, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954); Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. (11 Otto) 99, 25 L.Ed. 841 (1879). See also Warner Bros., 720 F.2d at 239.

    34

    "The idea/expression distinction, although an imprecise tool, has not been abandoned because we have as yet discovered no better way to reconcile the two competing societal interests that provide the rationale for the granting of and restrictions on copyright protection," namely, both rewarding individual ingenuity, and nevertheless allowing progress and improvements based on the same subject matter by others than the original author. Durham Industries, 630 F.2d at 912, quoting Reyher, 533 F.2d at 90.

    35

    There is no dispute that defendants cannot be held liable for using the idea of a map of the world from an egocentrically myopic perspective. No rigid principle has been developed, however, to ascertain when one has gone beyond the idea to the expression, and "[d]ecisions must therefore inevitably be ad hoc." Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487, 489 (2d Cir.1960) (L. Hand, J.). As Judge Frankel once observed, "Good eyes and common sense may be as useful as deep study of reported and unreported cases, which themselves are tied to highly particularized facts." Couleur International Ltd. v. Opulent Fabrics, Inc., 330 F.Supp. 152, 153 (S.D.N.Y.1971).

    36

    Even at first glance, one can see the striking stylistic relationship between the posters, and since style is one ingredient of "expression," this relationship is significant. Defendants' illustration was executed in the sketchy, whimsical style that has become one of Steinberg's hallmarks. Both illustrations represent a bird's eye view across the edge of Manhattan and a river bordering New York City to the world beyond. Both depict approximately four city blocks in detail and become increasingly minimalist as the design recedes into the background. Both use the device of a narrow band of blue wash across the top of the poster to represent the sky, and both delineate the horizon with a band of primary red.[3]

    37

    The strongest similarity is evident in the rendering of the New York City blocks. Both artists chose a vantage point that looks directly down a wide two-way cross street that intersects two avenues before reaching a river. Despite defendants' protestations, this is not an inevitable way of depicting blocks in a city with a grid-like street system, particularly since most New York City cross streets are one-way. Since even a photograph may be copyrighted because "no photograph, however simple, can be unaffected by the personal influence of the author," Time Inc. v. Bernard Geis Assoc., 293 F.Supp. 130, 141 (S.D.N.Y. 1968), quoting Bleistein, supra, one can hardly gainsay the right of an artist to protect his choice of perspective and layout in a drawing, especially in conjunction with the overall concept and individual details. Indeed, the fact that defendants changed the names of the streets while retaining the same graphic depiction weakens their case: had they intended their illustration realistically to depict the streets labeled on the poster, their four city blocks would not so closely resemble plaintiff's four city blocks. Moreover, their argument that they intended the jumble of streets and landmarks and buildings to symbolize their Muscovite protagonist's confusion in a new city does not detract from the strong similarity between their poster and Steinberg's.

    38

    [713] While not all of the details are identical, many of them could be mistaken for one another; for example, the depiction of the water towers, and the cars, and the red sign above a parking lot, and even many of the individual buildings. The shapes, windows, and configurations of various edifices are substantially similar. The ornaments, facades and details of Steinberg's buildings appear in defendants', although occasionally at other locations. In this context, it is significant that Steinberg did not depict any buildings actually erected in New York; rather, he was inspired by the general appearance of the structures on the West Side of Manhattan to create his own New York-ish structures. Thus, the similarity between the buildings depicted in the "Moscow" and Steinberg posters cannot be explained by an assertion that the artists happened to choose the same buildings to draw. The close similarity can be explained only by the defendants' artist having copied the plaintiff's work. Similarly, the locations and size, the errors and anomalies of Steinberg's shadows and streetlight, are meticulously imitated.

    39

    In addition, the Columbia artist's use of the childlike, spiky block print that has become one of Steinberg's hallmarks to letter the names of the streets in the "Moscow" poster can be explained only as copying. There is no inherent justification for using this style of lettering to label New York City streets as it is associated with New York only through Steinberg's poster.

    40

    While defendants' poster shows the city of Moscow on the horizon in far greater detail than anything is depicted in the background of plaintiff's illustration, this fact alone cannot alter the conclusion. "Substantial similarity" does not require identity, and "duplication or near identity is not necessary to establish infringement." Krofft, 562 F.2d at 1167. Neither the depiction of Moscow, nor the eastward perspective, nor the presence of randomly scattered New York City landmarks in defendants' poster suffices to eliminate the substantial similarity between the posters. As Judge Learned Hand wrote, "no plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate." Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 56 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 298 U.S. 669, 56 S.Ct. 835, 80 L.Ed. 1392 (1936).

    41

    Defendants argue that their poster could not infringe plaintiff's copyright because only a small proportion of its design could possibly be considered similar. This argument is both factually and legally without merit. "[A] copyright infringement may occur by reason of a substantial similarity that involves only a small portion of each work." Burroughs v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 683 F.2d 610, 624 n. 14 (2d Cir.1982). Moreover, this case involves the entire protected work and an iconographically, as well as proportionately, significant portion of the allegedly infringing work. Cf. Mattel, Inc. v. Azrak-Hamway Intern., Inc., 724 F.2d 357, 360 (2d Cir.1983); Elsmere Music, Inc. v. National Broadcasting Co., 482 F.Supp. 741, 744 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 623 F.2d 252 (2d Cir. 1980) (taking small part of protected work can violate copyright).

    42

    The process by which defendants' poster was created also undermines this argument. The "map," that is, the portion about which plaintiff is complaining, was designed separately from the rest of the poster. The likenesses of the three main characters, which were copied from a photograph, and the blocks of text were superimposed on the completed map. Nelson Deposition at 21-22; Nolan Deposition at 28.

    43

    I also reject defendants' argument that any similarities between the works are unprotectible scenes a faire, or "incidents, characters or settings which, as a practical matter, are indispensable or standard in the treatment of a given topic." Walker, 615 F.Supp. at 436. See also Reyher, 533 F.2d at 92. It is undeniable that a drawing of New York City blocks could be expected to include buildings, pedestrians, vehicles, lampposts and water towers. Plaintiff, however, does not complain of defendants' mere use of these elements in their poster; rather, his complaint is that defendants [714] copied his expression of those elements of a street scene.

    44

    While evidence of independent creation by the defendants would rebut plaintiff's prima facie case, "the absence of any countervailing evidence of creation independent of the copyrighted source may well render clearly erroneous a finding that there was not copying." Roth Greeting Cards v. United Card Co., 429 F.2d 1106, 1110 (9th Cir.1970). See also Novelty Textile Mills, 558 F.2d at 1092 n. 2.

    45

    Moreover, it is generally recognized that "... since a very high degree of similarity is required in order to dispense with proof of access, it must logically follow that where proof of access is offered, the required degree of similarity may be somewhat less than would be necessary in the absence of such proof." 2 Nimmer § 143.4 at 634, quoted in Krofft, 562 F.2d at 1172. As defendants have conceded access to plaintiff's copyrighted illustration, a somewhat lesser degree of similarity suffices to establish a copyright infringement than might otherwise be required. Here, however, the demonstrable similarities are such that proof of access, although in fact conceded, is almost unnecessary.

    46
    IV
    47

    I find meritless defendants' assertion that, to the extent that the "Moscow" poster evokes Steinberg's, that evocation is justified under the parody branch of the "fair use" doctrine, codified at 17 U.S.C. § 107. As this circuit has held, the copyrighted work must be "at least in part an object of the parody," MCA, Inc. v. Wilson, 677 F.2d 180, 185 (2d Cir.1981). The record does not support a claim that defendants intended to satirize plaintiff's illustration; indeed, the deposition testimony of Columbia's executive art director tends to contradict such a claim. Moreover, an assertion that defendants consciously parodied the idea of a parochial view of the world is immaterial: ideas are not protected by copyright, and the infringement alleged is of Steinberg's particular expression of that idea. Defendants' variation on the visual joke of plaintiff's illustration does not, without an element of humor aimed at some aspect of the illustration itself, render it a parody and therefore a fair use of plaintiff's work.

    48

    In codifying the case law on determining whether one work constitutes a fair use of another, Congress instructed the courts to consider certain factors, the first of which is whether the intended use of the allegedly infringing work is "of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." 17 U.S.C. § 107(1). As the Second Circuit said in a different artistic context, "We are not prepared to hold that a commercial [artist] can plagiarize a ... copyrighted [work], substitute [certain elements] of his own, [produce] it for commercial gain, and then escape liability by calling the end result a parody or satire on the mores of society." MCA, Inc., 677 F.2d at 185.

    49

    In analyzing the commercial or noncommercial nature of the "Moscow" poster, it is useful to distinguish between two conceptually different situations: advertising material that promotes a parody of a copyrighted work, and advertising material that itself infringes a copyright. In the first case, the fact that the advertisement uses elements of the copyrighted work does not necessarily mean that it infringes the copyright, if the product that it advertises constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted work. See, e.g., Warner Bros., 720 F.2d at 242-44 (promotional broadcasts for television series legally parodying the Superman comic strip character did not infringe copyright in Superman character).

    50

    In the second case, the work being advertised bears no relationship to the copyrighted work, but the advertisement itself infringes the copyright. In such a case, the owners of the copyright can prevent the advertisement from being used. As the Second Circuit has said, "[n]o matter how well known a copyrighted phrase becomes, its author is entitled to guard against its appropriation to promote the sale of commercial products." Warner Bros., 720 F.2d at 242. See, e.g., D.C. Comics, Inc. v. Crazy Eddie, Inc., 205 [715] U.S.P.Q. 1177 (S.D.N.Y.1979) (discount electronics chain not permitted to advertise its stores using parody of well-known lines associated with copyrighted Superman character).

    51

    This situation fits the second case. Neither the "Moscow" movie nor the poster was designed to be a parody of the Steinberg illustration. The poster merely borrowed numerous elements from Steinberg to create an appealing advertisement to promote an unrelated commercial product, the movie. No parody of the illustration is involved, and defendants are not entitled to the protection of the parody branch of the fair use doctrine.

    52

    The other factors mandated by 17 U.S.C. § 107 do nothing to mitigate this determination. The copyrighted work at issue is an artistic creation, 17 U.S.C. § 107(2), a very substantial portion of which was appropriated in the defendants' work, 17 U.S.C. § 107(3). As for the value of the copyrighted work, 17 U.S.C. § 107(4), plaintiff submitted testimony to the court to show that his reputation was injured by having the public believe that he voluntarily lent his work to a profit-making enterprise.

    53
    V
    54

    In their motion, defendants raised the affirmative defenses of estoppel and laches. Although Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(c) generally requires affirmative defenses to be pleaded, courts have been more lenient in the context of motions for summary judgment. "[A]bsent prejudice to the plaintiff, a defendant may raise an affirmative defense in a motion for summary judgment for the first time." Rivera v. Anaya, 726 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.1984). See 2A, 6 J. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice ¶¶ 8.28, 56.02[2], 56.17[4] (2d ed. 1986). It is therefore appropriate for this court to consider these defenses on the merits.

    55

    Defendants base their assertions of these equitable defenses on the following factual claims: (1) plaintiff's alleged "deliberate inaction" for eight years in the face of numerous counterfeits of his poster and adaptations of his idea to various other localities; (2) plaintiff's alleged failure to act in response to the newspaper advertisements that appeared to promote "Moscow"; and (3) defendants' assertion that Steinberg waited six months before even complaining to Columbia about their alleged infringement of his copyright on the poster, which defendants claim in their brief was a tactic on plaintiff's part to maximize the damages he hoped to receive.

    56

    The record, however, does not support defendants' claims. First, Steinberg specifically requested that The New Yorker magazine attempt to identify the sources of the counterfeit posters and prevent their continued distribution. As for the so-called adaptations of Steinberg's idea, there is no evidence that they infringed his copyright or that anyone ever believed that they did. As plaintiff freely and necessarily admits, the law does not protect an idea, but only the specific expression of that idea. The examples that defendants use to support their defense can at most be considered derivative of Steinberg's idea; none is a close copy of the poster itself, as defendants' is. Finally, defendants' last two assertions are rebutted by evidence that The New Yorker protested to The New York Times on plaintiff's behalf and at his request when "Moscow" opened, and that Columbia learned of this protest only a few weeks later.

    57

    Moreover, even were defendants' factual assertions borne out by the record, their equitable defenses would have to be rejected because they have failed to establish the elements of either estoppel or laches.

    58

    "A party seeking to invoke the doctrine of estoppel must plead and prove each of the essential elements: (1) a representation of fact ...; (2) rightful reliance thereon; and (3) injury or damage ... resulting from denial by the party making the representation." Galvez v. Local 804 Welfare Trust Fund, 543 F.Supp. 316, 317 (E.D.N. Y.1982), citing Haeberle v. Board of Trustees, 624 F.2d 1132 (2d Cir.1980).

    59

    Defendants have not established even the first of these elements. They argue that plaintiff's alleged silence [716] during the course of their advertisement campaign constitutes a sufficient representation of his acquiescence to meet the first requirement of the doctrine. As noted above, however, plaintiff did not remain silent, and the record shows that defendants, despite their awareness of his objections, continued to promote the film with the same advertisements and subsequently released a videocassette version of "Moscow" using the same promotional design. See Lottie Joplin Thomas Trust v. Crown Publishers, 592 F.2d 651, 655 (2d Cir.1978) (defense of estoppel falls where defendants fail to produce any evidence of detrimental reliance on plaintiff's alleged representations). Defendants overlook, moreover, that silence or inaction, in the absence of any duty or relationship between the parties, cannot give rise to an estoppel. Whiting Corp. v. Home Ins. Co., 516 F.Supp. 643, 656 (S.D.N.Y.1981). Cf. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., 522 F.2d 369, 378 (2d Cir.1975). No such duty existed here.

    60

    Defendants have likewise failed to establish the defense of laches. The party asserting laches must show that the opposing party "did not assert her or their rights diligently, and that such asserted lack of diligence ... resulted in prejudice to them." Lottie Joplin, 592 F.2d at 655, citing, inter alia, Costello v. United States, 365 U.S. 265, 282, 81 S.Ct. 534, 543, 5 L.Ed.2d 551 (1961). In Lottie Joplin, the Second Circuit held that a gap of approximately half a year between the publication of the allegedly infringing work and the institution of the lawsuit did not constitute a delay sufficient to establish a claim of laches. In this case, defendants were informed within weeks of plaintiff's disapproval of their poster; moreover, they have presented no evidence that, even if they had acknowledged any awareness of plaintiff's reaction, they would in any way have modified their subsequent actions. Consequently, they have failed to prove prejudice to themselves.

    61
    VI
    62

    For the reasons set out above, summary judgment is granted to plaintiffs as to copying.

    63

    A pretrial conference will be held on September 11, 1987, at 2 o'clock P.M., in Courtroom 35, to determine the proper measure and allocation of damages, other appropriate matters, and the parties' proposed schedule of further proceedings. The parties are to confer in advance of this conference, with the goal of reaching agreement on these matters, if possible.

    64

    [1] Nolan claimed also to have been inspired by some of the posters that were inspired by Steinberg's; such secondary inspiration, however, is irrelevant to whether or not the "Moscow" poster infringes plaintiff's copyright by having impermissibly copied it.

    65

    [2] The typeface is not a subject of copyright, but the similarity reinforces the impression that defendants copied plaintiff's illustration.

    66

    [3] Defendants claim that since this use of thin bands of primary colors is a traditional Japanese technique, their adoption of it cannot infringe Steinberg's copyright. This argument ignores the principle that while "[o]thers are free to copy the original ... [t]hey are not free to copy the copy." Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239, 250, 23 S.Ct. 298, 300, 47 L.Ed. 460 (1903) (Holmes, J.). Cf. Dave Grossman Designs, Inc. v. Bortin, 347 F.Supp. 1150, 1156-57 (N.D.Ill.1972) (an artist may use the same subject and style as another "so long as the second artist does not substantially copy [the first artist's] specific expression of his idea.")

  • 3 Mannion v. Coors Brewing Co. (2005)

    1
    377 F.Supp.2d 444
    2
    Jonathan MANNION, Plaintiff,
    v.
    COORS BREWING COMPANY and Carol H. Williams Advertising, Defendants.
    3
    No. 04 Civ. 1187(LAK).
    4
    United States District Court, S.D. New York.
    5
    July 21, 2005.
    6

    [446] Mary D. Dorman, for Plaintiff.

    7

    S. Raye Mitchell, The Mitchell Law Group, PC, for Defendants.

    8
    MEMORANDUM OPINION
    9

    KAPLAN, District Judge.

    10

    The parties dispute whether a photograph used in billboard advertisements for [447] Coors Light beer infringes the plaintiff's copyright in a photograph of a basketball star. The defendants almost certainly imitated the plaintiff's photograph. The major question is whether and to what extent what was copied is protected. The case requires the Court to consider the nature of copyright protection in photographs. The matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment.

    11
    Facts
    12

    Jonathan Mannion is a freelance photographer who specializes in portraits of celebrity athletes and musicians in the rap and rhythm-and-blues worlds.[1] In 1999 he was hired by SLAM, a basketball magazine, to photograph basketball star Kevin Garnett in connection with an article that the magazine planned to publish about him.[2] The article, entitled "Above the Clouds," appeared as the cover story of the December 1999 issue of the magazine.[3] It was accompanied by a number of Mannion's photographs of Garnett, including the one at issue here (the "Garnett Photograph"), which was printed on a two-page spread introducing the article.[4]

    13

    The Garnett Photograph, which is reproduced below,[5] is a three-quarter-length portrait of Garnett against a backdrop of clouds with some blue sky shining through. The view is up and across the right side of Garnett's torso, so that he appears to be towering above earth. He wears a white T-shirt, white athletic pants, a black close-fitting cap, and a large amount of platinum, gold, and diamond jewelry ("bling bling" in the vernacular), including several necklaces, a Rolex watch and bracelet on his left wrist, bracelets on his right wrist, rings on one finger of each hand, and earrings. His head is cocked, his eyes are closed, and his heavily-veined hands, nearly all of which are visible, rest over his lower abdomen, with the thumbs hooked on the waistband of the trousers. The light is from the viewer's left, so that Garnett's right shoulder is the brightest area of the photograph and his hands cast slight shadows on his trousers. As reproduced in the magazine, the photograph cuts off much of Garnett's left arm.[6]

    14

    In early 2001, defendant Carol H. Williams Advertising ("CHWA") began developing ideas for outdoor billboards that would advertise Coors Light beer to young black men in urban areas.[7] One of CHWA's "comp boards" — a "comp board" is an image created by an advertising company to convey a proposed design[8] — used a manipulated version of the Garnett Photograph and superimposed on it the words "Iced Out" ("ice" being slang for diamonds[9]) and a picture of a can of Coors Light beer (the "Iced Out Comp Board").[10] [448] CHWA obtained authorization from Mannion's representative to use the Garnett Photograph for this purpose.[11]

    15

    The Iced Out Comp Board, reproduced below, used a black-and-white, mirror image of the Garnett Photograph, but with the head cropped out on top and part of the fingers cropped out below.[12] CHWA forwarded its comp boards to, and solicited bids for the photograph for the Coors advertising from, various photographers including Mannion, who submitted a bid but did not receive the assignment.[13]

    16

    Coors and CHWA selected for a Coors billboard a photograph (the "Coors Billboard"), reproduced below, that resembles the Iced Out Comp Board.[14] The Coors Billboard depicts, in black-and-white, the torso of a muscular black man, albeit a model other than Garnett,[15] shot against a cloudy backdrop. The pose is similar to that in the Garnett Photograph, and the view also is up and across the left side of the torso. The model in the billboard photograph also wears a white T-shirt and white athletic pants. The model's jewelry is prominently depicted; it includes a necklace of platinum or gold and diamonds, a watch and two bracelets on the right wrist, and more bracelets on the left wrist. The light comes from the viewer's right, so that the left shoulder is the brightest part of the photograph, and the right arm and hand cast slight shadows on the trousers.[16]

    17

    Mannion subsequently noticed the Coors Billboard at two locations in the Los Angeles area.[17] He applied for registration of his copyright of the Garnett Photograph in 2003[18] and brought this action for infringement in February of 2004. The registration was completed in May 2004.[19] The parties each move for summary judgment.

    18
    Discussion
    19
    A. Summary Judgment Standard
    20

    Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[20] The moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact,[21] and the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.[22] "Where cross-motions for summary judgment are filed, a court `must evaluate each party's motion on its own merits, taking care in each instance to draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is under consideration.'"[23]  [449]

    21
    B. The Elements of Copyright Infringement
    22

    "To prove infringement, a plaintiff with a valid copyright must demonstrate that: (1) the defendant has actually copied the plaintiff's work; and (2) the copying is illegal because a substantial similarity exists between the defendant's work and the protectible elements of plaintiff's."[24] "Actual copying" — which is used as a term of art to mean that "the defendant, in creating its work, used the plaintiff's material as a model, template, or even inspiration"[25] — may be shown by direct evidence, which rarely is available, or by proof of access and probative similarities (as distinguished from "substantial similarity") between the two works.[26]

    23

    Mannion concededly owns a valid copyright in the Garnett photograph.[27] Access is undisputed. There is ample evidence from which a trier of fact could find that CHWA actually copied the Garnett Photograph for the Coors Billboard. Thus, the major questions presented by these motions are whether a trier of fact could or must find substantial similarity between protected elements of the Garnett Photograph and the Coors Billboard.[28] If no reasonable trier could find such similarity, [450] the defendants' motion must be granted and the plaintiff's denied. If any reasonable trier would be obliged to find such similarity (along with actual copying), the plaintiff's motion must be granted and the defendants' denied. If a reasonable trier could, but would not be required to, find substantial similarity (and actual copying), both motions must be denied.

    24
    C. Determining the Protectible Elements of the Garnett Photograph
    25

    The first question must be: in what respects is the Garnett Photograph protectible?

    26
    1. Protectible Elements of Photographs
    27

    It is well-established that "[t]he sine qua non of copyright is originality"[29] and, accordingly, that "copyright protection may extend only to those components of a work that are original to the author."[30] "Original" in the copyright context "means only that the work was independently created by the author (as opposed to copied from other works), and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity."[31]

    28

    It sometimes is said that "copyright in the photograph conveys no rights over the subject matter conveyed in the photograph."[32] But this is not always true. It of course is correct that the photographer of a building or tree or other pre-existing object has no right to prevent others from photographing the same thing.[33] That is because originality depends upon independent creation, and the photographer did not create that object. By contrast, if a photographer arranges or otherwise creates the subject that his camera captures, he may have the right to prevent others from producing works that depict that subject.[34]

    29

    Almost any photograph "may claim the necessary originality to support a copyright."[35] Indeed, ever since the Supreme Court considered an 1882 portrait by the celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony of the 27-year-old Oscar Wilde,[36] courts have articulated lists of potential components of a photograph's originality.[37] [451] These lists, however, are somewhat unsatisfactory.

    30

    First, they do not deal with the issue, alluded to above, that the nature and extent of a photograph's protection differs depending on what makes that photograph original.

    31

    Second, courts have not always distinguished between decisions that a photographer makes in creating a photograph and the originality of the final product. Several cases, for example, have included in lists of the potential components of photographic originality "selection of film and camera,"[38] "lens and filter selection,"[39] and "the kind of camera, the kind of film, [and] the kind of lens."[40] Having considered the matter fully, however, I think this is not sufficiently precise. Decisions about film, camera, and lens, for example, often bear on whether an image is original. But the fact that a photographer made such choices does not alone make the image original. "Sweat of the brow" is not the touchstone of copyright.[41] Protection derives from the features of the work itself, not the effort that goes into it.

    32

    This point is illustrated by Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp.,[42] in which this Court held that there was no copyright in photographic transparencies that sought to reproduce precisely paintings in the public domain. To be sure, a great deal of effort and expertise may have been poured into the production of the plaintiff's images, including decisions about camera, lens, and film. But the works were "slavish copies." They did not exhibit the originality necessary for copyright.[43]

    33

    The Court therefore will examine more closely the nature of originality in a photograph. In so doing, it draws on the helpful discussion in a leading treatise on United Kingdom copyright law,[44] which is [452] similar to our own with respect to the requirement of originality.[45]

    34

    A photograph may be original in three respects.[46] They are not mutually exclusive.

    35
    a. Rendition
    36

    First, "there may be originality which does not depend on creation of the scene or object to be photographed ... and which resides [instead] in such specialties as angle of shot, light and shade, exposure, effects achieved by means of filters, developing techniques etc."[47] I will refer to this type of originality as originality in the rendition because, to the extent a photograph is original in this way, copyright protects not what is depicted, but rather how it is depicted.[48]

    37

    It was originality in the rendition that was at issue in SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc.[49] That case concerned photographs of the defendants' mirrored picture frames that the defendants commissioned from the plaintiff. The photographs were to be used by the defendants' sales force for in-person pitches. When the defendants reproduced the photographs in their catalogues and brochures, the court found infringement: "Plaintiff cannot prevent others from photographing the same frames, or using the same lighting techniques and blue sky reflection in the mirrors. What makes plaintiff's photographs original is the totality of the precise lighting selection, angle of the camera, lens and filter selection."[50] Again, what made the photographs original was not the lens and filter selection themselves. It was the effect produced by the lens and filters selected, among other things. In any case, those effects were the basis of the originality of the works at issue in SHL Imaging.

    38

    By contrast, in Bridgeman Art Library, the goal was to reproduce exactly other works. The photographs were entirely unoriginal in the rendition, an extremely unusual circumstance. Unless a photograph replicates another work with total or near-total fidelity, it will be at least somewhat original in the rendition.

    39
    b. Timing
    40

    A photograph may be original in a second respect. "[A] person may create a worthwhile photograph by being at the right place at the right time."[51] I will [453] refer to this type of originality as originality in timing.

    41

    One case that concerned originality in timing, among other things, was Pagano v. Chas. Beseler Co.,[52] which addressed the copyrightability of a photograph of a scene in front of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and Forty-Second Street:

    42

    The question is not, as defendant suggests, whether the photograph of a public building may properly be copyrighted. Any one may take a photograph of a public building and of the surrounding scene. It undoubtedly requires originality to determine just when to take the photograph, so as to bring out the proper setting for both animate and inanimate objects.... The photographer caught the men and women in not merely lifelike, but artistic, positions, and this is especially true of the traffic policeman.... There are other features, which need not be discussed in detail, such as the motor cars waiting for the signal to proceed.[53]

    43

    A modern work strikingly original in timing might be Catch of the Day, by noted wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen, which depicts a salmon that appears to be jumping into the gaping mouth of a brown bear at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska.[54] An older example is Alfred Eisenstaedt's photograph of a sailor kissing a young woman on VJ Day in Times Square,[55] the memorability of which is attributable in significant part to the timing of its creation.

    44

    Copyright based on originality in timing is limited by the principle that copyright in a photograph ordinarily confers no rights over the subject matter. Thus, the copyright in Catch of the Day does not protect against subsequent photographs of bears feasting on salmon in the same location. Furthermore, if another photographer were sufficiently skilled and fortunate to capture a salmon at the precise moment that it appeared to enter a hungry bear's mouth — and others have tried, with varying degrees of success[56] — that photographer, even if inspired by Mangelsen, would not necessarily have infringed his work because Mangelsen's copyright does not extend to the natural world he captured.

    45

    In practice, originality in timing gives rise to the same type of protection as originality in the rendition. In each case, the image that exhibits the originality, but not the underlying subject, qualifies for copyright protection.

    46
    c. Creation of the Subject
    47

    The principle that copyright confers no right over the subject matter has an important limitation. A photograph may be original to the extent that the photographer created "the scene or subject to be photographed."[57] This type of originality, which I will refer to as originality in the creation of the subject, played an essential role in Rogers v. Koons[58] and Gross v. Seligman.[59]

    48

    [454] In Rogers, the court held that the copyright in the plaintiff's photograph Puppies, which depicted a contrived scene of the photographer's acquaintance, Jim Scanlon, and his wife on a park bench with eight puppies on their laps, protected against the defendants' attempt to replicate precisely, albeit in a three dimensional sculpture, the content of the photograph.[60] Although the Circuit noted that Puppies was original because the artist "made creative judgments concerning technical matters with his camera and the use of natural light"[61] — in other words, because it was original in the rendition — its originality in the creation of the subject was more salient.[62] The same is true of the works at issue in Gross v. Seligman, in which the Circuit held that the copyright in a photograph named Grace of Youth was infringed when the same artist created a photograph named Cherry Ripe[63] using "the same model in the identical pose, with the single exception that the young woman now wears a smile and holds a cherry stem between her teeth."[64]

    49

    * * * * * *

    50

    To conclude, the nature and extent of protection conferred by the copyright in a photograph will vary depending on the nature of its originality. Insofar as a photograph is original in the rendition or timing, copyright protects the image but does not prevent others from photographing the same object or scene. Thus, the copyright at issue in SHL Imaging does not protect against subsequent photographs of the picture frames because the originality of the plaintiffs' photographs was almost purely in the rendition of those frames, not in their creation or the timing of the scene captured. In Pagano, the timing of the capture of the scene in front of the New York Public Library and its rendition were original, but the copyright in the Pagano photograph does not protect against future attempts to capture a scene in front of the same building, just as a copyright in Catch of the Day would not protect against other photographers capturing images of salmon-eating bears.

    51

    By contrast, to the extent that a photograph is original in the creation of the subject, copyright extends also to that subject. Thus, an artist who arranges and then photographs a scene often will have the right to prevent others from duplicating that scene in a photograph or other medium.[65]

    52
    2. Originality of the Garnett Photograph
    53

    There can be no serious dispute that the Garnett Photograph is an original [455] work. The photograph does not result from slavishly copying another work and therefore is original in the rendition. Mannion's relatively unusual angle and distinctive lighting strengthen that aspect of the photograph's originality. His composition — posing man against sky — evidences originality in the creation of the subject. Furthermore, Mannion instructed Garnett to wear simple and plain clothing and as much jewelry as possible, and "to look 'chilled out.'"[66] His orchestration of the scene contributes additional originality in the creation of the subject.

    54

    Of course, there are limits to the photograph's originality and therefore to the protection conferred by the copyright in the Garnett Photograph. For example, Kevin Garnett's face, torso, and hands are not original with Mannion, and Mannion therefore may not prevent others from creating photographic portraits of Garnett. Equally obviously, the existence of a cloudy sky is not original, and Mannion therefore may not prevent others from using a cloudy sky as a backdrop.

    55

    The defendants, however, take this line of reasoning too far. They argue that it was Garnett, not Mannion, who selected the specific clothing, jewelry, and pose. In consequence, they maintain, the Garnett Photograph is not original to the extent of Garnett's clothing, jewelry, and pose.[67] They appear to be referring to originality in the creation of the subject.

    56

    There are two problems with the defendants' argument. The first is that Mannion indisputably orchestrated the scene, even if he did not plan every detail before he met Garnett, and then made the decision to capture it. The second difficulty is that the originality of the photograph extends beyond the individual clothing, jewelry, and pose viewed in isolation. It is the entire image — depicting man, sky, clothing, and jewelry in a particular arrangement — that is at issue here, not its individual components. The Second Circuit has rejected the proposition that:

    57

    in comparing designs for copyright infringement, we are required to dissect them into their separate components, and compare only those elements which are in themselves copyrightable.... [I]f we took this argument to its logical conclusion, we might have to decide that `there can be no originality in a painting because all colors of paint have been used somewhere in the past.[68]

    58
    3. The Idea / Expression Difficulty
    59

    Notwithstanding the originality of the Garnett Photograph, the defendants argue that the Coors Billboard does not infringe because the two, insofar as they are similar, share only "the generalized idea and concept of a young African American man wearing a white T-shirt and a large amount of jewelry."[69]

    60

    It is true that an axiom of copyright law is that copyright does not protect "ideas," only their expression.[70] Furthermore, when "a given idea is inseparably tied to a particular expression" so that "there is a `merger' of idea and expression," [456] courts may deny protection to the expression in order to avoid conferring a monopoly on the idea to which it inseparably is tied.[71] But the defendants' reliance on these principles is misplaced.

    61

    The "idea" (if one wants to call it that) postulated by the defendants does not even come close to accounting for all the similarities between the two works, which extend at least to angle, pose, background, composition, and lighting. It is possible to imagine any number of depictions of a black man wearing a white T-shirt and "bling bling" that look nothing like either of the photographs at issue here.

    62

    This alone is sufficient to dispose of the defendants' contention that Mannion's claims must be rejected because he seeks to protect an idea rather than its expression. But the argument reveals an analytical difficulty in the case law about which more ought to be said. One of the main cases upon which the defendants rely is Kaplan v. Stock Market Photo Agency, Inc.,[72] in which two remarkably similar photographs of a businessman's shoes and lower legs, taken from the top of a tall building looking down on a street below (the plaintiff's and defendants' photographs are reproduced below), were held to be not substantially similar as a matter of law because all of the similarities flowed only from an unprotected idea rather than from the expression of that idea.

    63

    But what is the "idea" of Kaplan's photograph? Is it (1) a businessman contemplating suicide by jumping from a building, (2) a businessman contemplating suicide by jumping from a building, seen from the vantage point of the businessman, with his shoes set against the street far below, or perhaps something more general, such as (3) a sense of desperation produced by urban professional life?

    64

    If the "idea" is (1) or, for that matter, (3), then the similarities between the two photographs flow from something much more than that idea, for it have would been possible to convey (1) (and (3)) in any number of ways that bear no obvious similarities to Kaplan's photograph. (Examples are a businessman atop a building seen from below, or the entire figure of the businessman, rather than just his shoes or pants, seen from above.) If, on the other hand, the "idea" is (2), then the two works could be said to owe much of their similarity to a shared idea.[73]

    65

    [457] To be sure, the difficulty of distinguishing between idea and expression long has been recognized. Judge Learned Hand famously observed in 1930:

    66

    Upon any work, and especially upon a play, a great number of patterns of increasing generality will fit equally well, as more and more of the incident is left out. The last may perhaps be no more than the most general statement of what the play is about, and at times might consist only of its title; but there is a point in this series of abstractions where they are no longer protected, since otherwise the playwright could prevent the use of his `ideas,' to which, apart from their expression, his property is never extended. Nobody has ever been able to fix that boundary, and nobody ever can.[74]

    67

    Three decades later, Judge Hand's views were essentially the same: "The test for infringement of a copyright is of necessity vague.... Obviously, no principle can be stated as to when an imitator has gone beyond copying the `idea,' and has borrowed its `expression.' Decisions must therefore inevitably be ad hoc."[75] Since then, the Second Circuit and other authorities repeatedly have echoed these sentiments.[76]

    68

    But there is a difference between the sort of difficulty Judge Hand identified in Nichols and Peter Pan Fabrics and the one presented by the Kaplan rationale and the defendants' argument about ideas in this case. The former difficulty is essentially one of line-drawing, and, as Judge Hand taught, is common to most cases in most areas of the law.[77] The latter difficulty, [458] however, is not simply that it is not always clear where to draw the line; it is that the line itself is meaningless because the conceptual categories it purports to delineate are ill-suited to the subject matter.

    69

    The idea/expression distinction arose in the context of literary copyright.[78] For the most part, the Supreme Court has not applied it outside that context.[79] The classic Hand formulations reviewed above also were articulated in the context of literary works. And it makes sense to speak of the idea conveyed by a literary work and to distinguish it from its expression. To take a clear example, two different authors each can describe, with very different words, the theory of special relativity. The words will be protected as expression. The theory is a set of unprotected ideas.

    70

    In the visual arts, the distinction breaks down. For one thing, it is impossible in most cases to speak of the particular "idea" captured, embodied, or conveyed by a work of art because every observer will have a different interpretation.[80] Furthermore, it is not clear that there is any real distinction between the idea in a work of art and its expression. An artist's idea, among other things, is to depict a particular subject in a particular way. As a demonstration, a number of cases from this Circuit have observed that a photographer's "conception" of his subject is copyrightable.[81] By "conception," the courts must mean originality in the rendition, timing, and creation of the subject — for that is what copyright protects in photography. But the word "conception" is a cousin of "concept," and both are akin to "idea." In other words, those elements of a photograph, or indeed, any work of visual art protected by copyright, could just as [459] easily be labeled "idea" as "expression."[82]

    71

    This Court is not the first to question the usefulness of the idea/expression terminology in the context of non-verbal media. Judge Hand pointed out in Peter Pan Fabrics that whereas "[i]n the case of verbal `works', it is well settled that ... there can be no copyright in the `ideas' disclosed but only in their `expression[,]'" "[i]n the case of designs, which are addressed to the aesthetic sensibilities of the observer, the test is, if possible, even more intangible."[83] Moreover, Judge Newman has written:

    72

    I do not deny that all of these subject matters [computer programs, wooden dolls, advertisements in a telephone directory] required courts to determine whether the first work was copyrightable and whether the second infringed protectable elements. What I question is whether courts should be making those determinations with the same modes of analysis and even the same vocabulary that was appropriate for writings.... [I]t is not just a matter of vocabulary. Words convey concepts, and if we use identical phrases from one context to resolve issues in another, we risk failing to notice that the relevant concepts are and ought to be somewhat different.[84]

    73

    He then referred to dicta from his own decision in Warner Bros. v. American Broadcasting Companies,[85] explaining: "I was saying ... [that] one cannot divide a visual work into neat layers of abstraction in precisely the same manner one could with a text."[86] The Third Circuit has made a similar point:

    74

    Troublesome, too, is the fact that the same general principles are applied in claims involving plays, novels, sculpture, maps, directories of information, musical compositions, as well as artistic paintings. Isolating the idea from the expression and determining the extent of copying required for unlawful appropriation necessarily depend to some degree on whether the subject matter is words or symbols written on paper, or paint brushed onto canvas.[87]

    75

    For all of these reasons, I think little is gained by attempting to distinguish an unprotectible "idea" from its protectible "expression" in a photograph or other work of visual art. It remains, then, to consider just what courts have been referring to [460] when they have spoken of the "idea" in a photograph.

    76

    A good example is Rogers v. Koons, in which the court observed that "[i]t is not ... the idea of a couple with eight small puppies seated on a bench that is protected, but rather Rogers' expression of this idea — as caught in the placement, in the particular light, and in the expressions of the subjects...."[88] But "a couple with eight small puppies seated on a bench" is not necessarily the idea of Puppies, which just as easily could be "people with dogs on their laps," "the bliss of owning puppies," or even a sheepishly ironic thought such as "Ha ha! This might look cute now, but boy are these puppies going to be a lot of work!"

    77

    Rather, "a couple with eight small puppies seated on a bench" is nothing more or less than what "a young African American man wearing a white T-shirt and a large amount of jewelry"[89] is: a description of the subject at a level of generality sufficient to avoid implicating copyright protection for an original photograph. Other copyright cases that have referred to the "idea" of a photograph also used "idea" to mean a general description of the subject or subject matter.[90] The Kaplan decision even used these terms interchangeably: "The subject matter of both photographs is a businessperson contemplating a leap from a tall building onto the city street below. As the photograph's central idea, rather than Kaplan's expression of the idea, this subject matter is unprotectable in and of itself."[91] Thus another photographer [461] may pose a couple with eight puppies on a bench, depict a businessman contemplating a leap from an office building onto a street, or take a picture of a black man in white athletic wear and showy jewelry. In each case, however, there would be infringement (assuming actual copying and ownership of a valid copyright) if the subject and rendition were sufficiently like those in the copyrighted work.

    78

    This discussion of course prompts the question: at what point do the similarities between two photographs become sufficiently general that there will be no infringement even though actual copying has occurred? But this question is precisely the same, although phrased in the opposite way, as one that must be addressed in all infringement cases, namely whether two works are substantially similar with respect to their protected elements. It is nonsensical to speak of one photograph being substantially similar to another in the rendition and creation of the subject but somehow not infringing because of a shared idea. Conversely, if the two photographs are not substantially similar in the rendition and creation of the subject, the distinction between idea and expression will be irrelevant because there can be no infringement. The idea/expression distinction in photography, and probably the other visual arts, thus achieves nothing beyond what other, clearer copyright principles already accomplish.

    79

    I recognize that those principles sometimes may pose a problem like that Judge Hand identified with distinguishing idea from expression in the literary context. As Judge Hand observed, however, such line-drawing difficulties appear in all areas of the law. The important thing is that the categories at issue be useful and relevant, even if their precise boundaries are sometimes difficult to delineate. In the context of photography, the idea/expression distinction is not useful or relevant.

    80
    D. Comparison of the Coors Billboard and the Garnett Photograph
    81

    The next step is to determine whether a trier of fact could or must find the Coors Billboard substantially similar to the Garnett Photograph with respect to their protected elements.

    82

    Substantial similarity ultimately is a question of fact. "The standard test for substantial similarity between two items is whether an `ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard [the] aesthetic appeal as the same.'"[92] The Second Circuit sometimes has applied a "more discerning observer" test when a work contains both protectible and unprotectible elements. The test "requires the court to eliminate the unprotectible elements from its consideration and to ask whether the protectible elements, standing alone, are substantially similar."[93] The Circuit, however, is ambivalent about this test. In several cases dealing with fabric and garment designs, the Circuit has cautioned that:

    83

    [462] a court is not to dissect the works at issue into separate components and compare only the copyrightable elements.... To do so would be to take the `more discerning' test to an extreme, which would result in almost nothing being copyrightable because original works broken down into their composite parts would usually be little more than basic unprotectible elements like letters, colors and symbols.[94]

    84

    Dissecting the works into separate components and comparing only the copyrightable elements, however, appears to be exactly what the "more discerning observer" test calls for.

    85

    The Circuit indirectly spoke to this tension in the recent case of Tufenkian Import/Export Ventures, Inc. v. Einstein Moomjy, Inc.[95] There the trial court purported to use the more discerning observer test but nonetheless compared the "total-concept-and-feel" of carpet designs.[96] The Circuit observed that the more discerning observer test is "intended to emphasize that substantial similarity must exist between the defendant's allegedly infringing design and the protectible elements in the plaintiff's design."[97] In making its own comparison, the Circuit did not mention the "more discerning observer" test at all, but it did note that:

    86

    "the total-concept-and-feel locution functions as a reminder that, while the infringement analysis must begin by dissecting the copyrighted work into its component parts in order to clarify precisely what is not original, infringement analysis is not simply a matter of ascertaining similarity between components viewed in isolation.... The court, confronted with an allegedly infringing work, must analyze the two works closely to figure out in what respects, if any, they are similar, and then determine whether these similarities are due to protected aesthetic expressions original to the allegedly infringed work, or whether the similarity is to something in the original that is free for the taking."[98]

    87

    In light of these precedents, the Court concludes that it is immaterial whether the ordinary or more discerning observer test is used here because the inquiries would be identical. The cases agree that the relevant comparison is between the protectible elements in the Garnett Photograph and the Coors Billboard, but that those elements are not to be viewed in isolation.

    88

    The Garnett Photograph is protectible to the extent of its originality in the rendition and creation of the subject. Key elements of the Garnett Photograph that are in the public domain — such as Kevin Garnett's likeness — are not replicated in the Coors Billboard. Other elements arguably in the public domain — such as the existence of a cloudy sky, Garnett's pose, his white T-shirt, and his specific jewelry — may not be copyrightable in and of themselves, but their existence and arrangement in this photograph indisputably contribute to its originality. Thus the fact that the Garnett Photograph includes certain elements that would not be copyrightable in isolation does not affect the nature of the comparison. The question is whether the aesthetic appeal of the two images is the same.

    89

    The two photographs share a similar composition and angle. The lighting is similar, and both use a cloudy sky as backdrop. [463] The subjects are wearing similar clothing and similar jewelry arranged in a similar way. The defendants, in other words, appear to have recreated much of the subject that Mannion had created and then, through imitation of angle and lighting, rendered it in a similar way. The similarities here thus relate to the Garnett Photograph's originality in the rendition and the creation of the subject and therefore to its protected elements.

    90

    There of course are differences between the two works. The similarity analysis may take into account some, but not all, of these. It long has been the law that "no plagiarist can excuse the wrong by showing how much of his work he did not pirate."[99] Thus the addition of the words "Iced Out" and a can of Coors Light beer may not enter into the similarity analysis.

    91

    Other differences, however, are in the nature of changes rather than additions. One image is black and white and dark, the other is in color and bright. One is the mirror image of the other. One depicts only an unidentified man's torso, the other the top three-fourths of Kevin Garnett's body. The jewelry is not identical. One T-shirt appears to fit more tightly than the other. These changes may enter the analysis because "[i]f the points of dissimilarity not only exceed the points of similarity, but indicate that the remaining points of similarity are, within the context of plaintiff's work, of minimal importance... then no infringement results."[100]

    92

    The parties have catalogued at length and in depth the similarities and differences between these works. In the last analysis, a reasonable jury could find substantial similarity either present or absent. As in Kisch v. Ammirati & Puris Inc.,[101] which presents facts as close to this case as can be imagined, the images are such that infringement cannot be ruled out — or in — as a matter of law.

    93
    Conclusion
    94

    The defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint (docket item 18) is granted to the extent that the complaint seeks relief for violation of the plaintiff's exclusive right to prepare derivative works and otherwise denied. The plaintiff's cross motion for summary judgment is denied.

    95

    SO ORDERED.

    96

    ---------------

    97

    Notes:

    98

    [1] Mannion Decl. ¶ 1.

    99

    [2] Id. ¶ 3.

    100

    [3] See Pl.Ex. A.

    101

    [4] See id.; Def. Ex. A; Am. Cpt. Ex. B.

    102

    [5] Published opinions in copyright cases concerning graphical works do not often include reproductions of those works. Two exceptions are Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd., 71 F.3d 996, 1014-17 (2d Cir.1995) and Tufenkian Import/Export Ventures, Inc. v. Einstein Moomjy, Inc., 237 F.Supp.2d 376, 390-93 (S.D.N.Y.2002). Such reproductions are helpful in understanding the opinions, even if the images are not ideal because the West reporters print in black and white.

    103

    [6] Def. Ex. A; Pl.Ex. A; Am. Cpt. Ex. B; Mannion Decl. ¶¶ 4-5, 7-8.

    104

    [7] Cook Decl. ¶ 2.

    105

    [8] See Mannion Decl. ¶ 12; Cook Decl. ¶ 4; Fournier v. Erickson, 202 F.Supp.2d 290, 292 (S.D.N.Y.2002).

    106

    [9] See, e.g., AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY 868 (4th ed.2000).

    107

    [10] See Cook Decl. ¶¶ 3, 5; Pl.Ex. B.

    108

    [11] See Cook Decl. ¶ 5; Def. Ex. B.

    109

    The authorization was for "[u]sage in internal corporate merchandising catalog," Def. Ex. B, which Mannion concedes extended to the Iced Out Comp Board. See Pl. Opening Mem. 2; Pl. Reply Mem. 2.

    110

    [12] See Pl.Ex. B.

    111

    [13] Cook Decl. ¶ 6; Mannion Decl. ¶¶ 12, 17-19.

    112

    [14] See Def. Ex. C; Am. Cpt. Ex. C.

    113

    [15] Cook Decl. ¶ 7.

    114

    [16] See Def. Ex. C; Am. Cpt. Ex. C.

    115

    [17] Mannion Decl. ¶ 20.

    116

    [18] Am. Cpt. Ex. A.

    117

    [19] Id.

    118

    [20] FED.R.CIV.P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); White v. ABCO Eng'g Corp., 221 F.3d 293, 300 (2d Cir.2000).

    119

    [21] Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970).

    120

    [22] United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962); Hetchkop v. Woodlawn at Grassmere, Inc., 116 F.3d 28, 33 (2d Cir.1997).

    121

    [23] Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, Local 100 v. City of New York Dep't of Parks & Recreation, 311 F.3d 534, 543 (2d Cir.2002) (quoting Heublein, Inc. v. United States, 996 F.2d 1455, 1461 (2d Cir.1993) (internal quotation marks omitted)); accord Make the Road by Walking, Inc. v. Turner, 378 F.3d 133, 142 (2d Cir.2004).

    122

    [24] Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd., 71 F.3d 996, 1002 (2d Cir.1995) (second emphasis added) (quoting Fisher-Price, Inc. v. Well-Made Toy Mfg. Corp., 25 F.3d 119, 122-23 (2d Cir.1994)); accord Tufenkian Import/Export Ventures, Inc. v. Einstein Moomjy, Inc., 338 F.3d 127, 131 (2d Cir.2003) (citing Castle Rock Entm't, Inc. v. Carol Publ'g Group, Inc., 150 F.3d 132, 137-38 (2d Cir.1998)); Boisson v. Banian, Ltd., 273 F.3d 262, 267-68 (2d Cir.2001) (citing Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991) and Streetwise Maps, Inc. v. VanDam, Inc., 159 F.3d 739, 747 (2d Cir.1998)); Fournier v. Erickson, 202 F.Supp.2d 290, 294 (S.D.N.Y.2002).

    123

    [25] 4 NIMMER ON COPYRIGHT § 13.01[B], at 13-8 ("NIMMER").

    124

    [26] E.g., Jorgensen v. Epic/Sony Records, 351 F.3d 46, 51 (2d Cir.2003); Boisson, 273 F.3d at 267-68 (citing Laureyssens v. Idea Group, Inc., 964 F.2d 131, 140 (2d Cir.1992)).

    125

    [27] See Def. Opening Mem. 7; Def. Supp. Mem. 5.

    126

    [28] Contrary to the implication in some of the plaintiff's papers, see Am. Cpt. ¶¶ 27-29; Pl. Opening Mem. 6; Pl. Supp. Mem. 6-10; see also Tr. (1/27/05) 8-11, 14-19, 25, 30-32, 34-36 ("Tr."), this case does not require a determination whether the defendants have violated the plaintiff's exclusive right under 17 U.S.C. § 106(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the Garnett Photograph. The image used on the Iced Out Comp Board may have been a derivative work based upon the Garnett Photograph, see 17 U.S.C. § 101 (2005), but CHWA obtained the right to use the Garnett Photograph in connection with the Iced Out Comp Board.

    127

    The question whether the Coors Billboard is a derivative work based upon the Garnett Photograph is immaterial. "[A] work will be considered a derivative work only if it would be considered an infringing work" absent consent. 1 NIMMER § 3.01, at 3-4. That is, the infringement inquiry logically precedes or at least controls the derivative work inquiry.

    128

    Finally — again contrary to the plaintiff's suggestion, see Pl. Opening Mem. 9; Pl. Reply Mem. 2-4; Tr. 21-24 — also immaterial is the question whether the Coors Billboard may infringe Mannion's copyright if the Coors Billboard is not substantially similar to the Garnett Photograph but is substantially similar to the Garnett Photograph's hypothesized derivative on the Iced Out Comp Board. Mannion has no registered copyright in the image on the Iced Out Comp Board, which precludes a suit for infringement based upon that image. Well-Made Toy Mfg. Corp. v. Goffa Int'l Corp., 354 F.3d 112, 115-117 (2d Cir.2003); 17 U.S.C. § 411(a) (2005).

    129

    The only question in this case is whether the Coors Billboard infringes the copyright in the Garnett Photograph. The only material comparison therefore is between those two images. Accordingly, the complaint is dismissed to the extent that it asserts a violation of Mannion's exclusive right to prepare derivative works.

    130

    [29] Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 345, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991).

    131

    [30] Id. at 348, 111 S.Ct. 1282.

    132

    [31] Id. at 345, 111 S.Ct. 1282 (citing 1 NIMMER §§ 2.01[A], [B] (1990)).

    133

    [32] 1 NIMMER § 2.08[E][1], at 2-130.

    134

    [33] E.g., Caratzas v. Time Life, Inc., No. 92 Civ. 6346(PKL), 1992 WL 322033, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Oct.23, 1992) (observing, in the context of photographs of historic sites, that "Justice Holmes made it clear almost ninety years ago that actionable copying does not occur where a photographer takes a picture of the subject matter depicted in a copyrighted photograph, so long as the second photographer does not copy original aspects of the copyrighted work, such as lighting or placement of the subject.").

    135

    [34] See Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir.1992); Gross v. Seligman, 212 F. 930 (2d Cir.1914).

    136

    [35] 1 NIMMER § 2.08[E][1], at 2-129; see also Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 36 F.Supp.2d 191, 196 (S.D.N.Y.1999).

    137

    [36] See Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony, 111 U.S. 53, 4 S.Ct. 279, 28 L.Ed. 349 (1884); SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc., 117 F.Supp.2d 301, 307-08 (S.D.N.Y.2000) (recounting the history of Burrow-Giles with reference to THE WAKING DREAM: PHOTOGRAPHY'S FIRST CENTURY 339-40 (Met. Museum of Art 1993)).

    138

    The photograph at issue in Burrow-Giles is reproduced in MELVILLE B. NIMMER ET AL., CASES AND MATERIALS ON COPYRIGHT 11 (6th ed. 2000) ("CASES AND MATERIALS ON COPYRIGHT").

    139

    [37] See Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co., 111 U.S. at 60, 4 S.Ct. 279 (originality of Wilde portrait founded upon overall composition, including pose, clothing, background, light, and shade, "suggesting and evoking the desired expression"); Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 137 F.3d 109, 116 (2d Cir.1998) ("Leibovitz is entitled to protection for such artistic elements as the particular lighting, the resulting skin tone of the subject, and the camera angle that she selected."); Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301, 307 (2d Cir.1992) ("Elements of originality in a photograph may include posing the subjects, lighting, angle, selection of film and camera, evoking the desired expression, and almost any other variant involved."); Gross v. Seligman, 212 F. 930, 931 (2d Cir.1914) ("exercise of artistic talent" reflected in "pose, light, and shade, etc."); SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc., 117 F.Supp.2d 301, 311 (S.D.N.Y.2000) ("What makes plaintiff's photographs original is the totality of the precise lighting selection, angle of the camera, lens and filter selection."); E. Am. Trio Prods., Inc. v. Tang Elec. Corp., 97 F.Supp.2d 395, 417 (S.D.N.Y.2000) ("The necessary originality for a photograph may be founded upon, among other things, the photographer's choice of subject matter, angle of photograph, lighting, determination of the precise time when the photograph is to be taken, the kind of camera, the kind of film, the kind of lens, and the area in which the pictures are taken."); Kisch v. Ammirati & Puris Inc., 657 F.Supp. 380, 382 (S.D.N.Y.1987) (copyrightable elements of a photograph "include such features as the photographer's selection of lighting, shading, positioning and timing.").

    140

    Even these lists are not complete. They omit such features as the amount of the image in focus, its graininess, and the level of contrast.

    141

    [38] Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301, 307 (2d Cir.1992).

    142

    [39] SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc., 117 F.Supp.2d 301, 311 (S.D.N.Y.2000).

    143

    [40] E. Am. Trio Prods., Inc. v. Tang Elec. Corp., 97 F.Supp.2d 395, 417 (S.D.N.Y.2000) (Kaplan, J.)

    144

    [41] Feist, 499 U.S. at 359-60, 111 S.Ct. 1282.

    145

    [42] 36 F.Supp.2d 191 (S.D.N.Y.1999).

    146

    [43] Id. at 197; Bridgeman Art Library, Ltd. v. Corel Corp., 25 F.Supp.2d 421, 427 & nn. 41, 47 (S.D.N.Y.1998).

    147

    [44] HON. SIR HUGH LADDIE ET AL., THE MODERN LAW OF COPYRIGHT AND DESIGNS (3d ed. Butterworths 2000) ("LADDIE").

    148

    [45] See Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, c. 48, § 1(1)(a); 1 LADDIE § 1.8.

    149

    [46] See 1 LADDIE § 4.57, at 229.

    150

    [47] Id.

    151

    [48] See Caratzas v. Time Life, Inc., No. 92 Civ. 6346(PKL), 1992 WL 322033, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Oct.23, 1992); Leigh v. Warner Bros., 212 F.3d 1210, 1214 (11th Cir.2000); see also Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239, 249, 23 S.Ct. 298, 47 L.Ed. 460 (1903) ("It is obvious also that the plaintiff's case is not affected by the fact, if it be one, that the pictures represent actual groups — visible things. They seem from the testimony to have been composed from hints or description, not from sight.... But even if they had been drawn from the life, that fact would not deprive them of protection. The opposite proposition would mean that a portrait by Velasquez or Whistler was common property because others might try their hand on the same face. Others are free to copy the original. They are not free to copy the copy."); Franklin Mint Corp. v. Nat'l Wildlife Art Exchange, Inc., 575 F.2d 62, 65 (3d Cir.1978) (same); F.W. Woolworth Co. v. Contemporary Arts, 193 F.2d 162, 164 (1st Cir.1951) ("It is the well established rule that a copyright on a work of art does not protect a subject, but only the treatment of a subject."); BENJAMIN KAPLAN, AN UNHURRIED VIEW OF COPYRIGHT 56 (1967) (observing that, with respect to "works of `fine art,'" "the manner of execution is usually of more interest than the subject pictured.").

    152

    [49] 117 F.Supp.2d 301 (S.D.N.Y.2000).

    153

    [50] Id. at 311.

    154

    [51] 1 LADDIE § 4.57, at 229.

    155

    [52] 234 F. 963 (S.D.N.Y.1916).

    156

    [53] Id. at 964.

    157

    [54] A digital image of the photograph may be found at http://www.fulcrumgallery.com/print — 38089.aspx (last visited July 20, 2005).

    158

    [55] A digital image appears at http://www.gallerym.com/work.cfm? ID=69 (last visited July 20, 2005).

    159

    [56] See, e.g., http://www.raydoan.com/6140.asp (last visited July 20, 2005); http://www .shusterimages.net/BearsätBrooksFalls.htm (last visited July 20, 2005).

    160

    [57] 1 LADDIE § 4.57, at 229.

    161

    [58] 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir.1992).

    162

    [59] 212 F. 930 (2d Cir.1914).

    163

    [60] For a reproduction of the works at issue in Rogers v. Koons, see ROBERT C. OSTERBERG & ERIC C. OSTERBERG, SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY IN COPYRIGHT LAW A-24, A-25 (Practising Law Institute 2003).

    164

    [61] 960 F.2d at 304.

    165

    [62] See id. ("When Rogers went to [Jim Scanlon's] home... he decided that taking a picture of the puppies alone [as Scanlon originally had requested] would not work successfully, and chose instead to include [the Scanlons] holding them.... [Rogers] selected the light, the location, the bench on which the Scanlons are seated and the arrangement of the small dogs.").

    166

    [63] The two photographs are reproduced in CASES AND MATERIALS ON COPYRIGHT 211.

    167

    [64] 212 F. at 930-31.

    168

    Also part of the court's analysis was the observation that there were "many close identities of ... light[] and shade." Id.

    169

    [65] I recognize that the preceding analysis focuses on a medium — traditional print photography — that is being supplanted in significant degree by digital technology. These advancements may or may not demand a different analytical framework.

    170

    [66] Mannion Decl. ¶¶ 4-7, 9.

    171

    [67] Def. Reply Mem. 10-11.

    172

    The defendants complain as well that Mannion's declaration does not mention, among other things, the type of film, camera, and filters that he used to produce the Garnett Photograph. Id. at 11. These omissions are irrelevant. As discussed above, originality in the rendition is assessed with respect to the work, not the artist's specific decisions in producing it.

    173

    [68] Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd., 71 F.3d 996, 1003 (2d Cir.1995) (citation omitted).

    174

    [69] Def. Br. 6.

    175

    [70] See 4 NIMMER § 13.03[B][2][a]; 17 U.S.C. § 102(b).

    176

    [71] 4 NIMMER § 13.03[B][3].

    177

    [72] 133 F.Supp.2d 317 (S.D.N.Y.2001).

    178

    [73] The Kaplan decision itself characterized the "idea" as "a businessperson contemplating a leap from a tall building onto the city street below," see id. at 323, but this characterization does not fully account for the disposition of the case. The court agreed with the defendants that:

    179

    "in order to most accurately express th[is] idea ..., the photograph must be taken from the `jumper's' own viewpoint, which would (i) naturally include the sheer side of the building and the traffic below, and (ii) logically restrict the visible area of the businessperson's body to his shoes and a certain portion of his pants legs.... Thus, the angle and viewpoint used in both photographs are essential to, commonly associated with, and naturally flow from the photograph's unprotectable subject matter.... [T]he most common, and most effective, viewpoint from which the convey the idea of the `jumper' ... remains that of the `jumper' himself." Id. at 326.

    180

    The Kaplan court's observations about the angle and viewpoint "essential to" and "commonly associated with," that "naturally flow from," "most accurately express," and "most effective[ly]" convey the "idea of a businessperson's contemplation of a leap" are unpersuasive. Thus, the opinion is best read to hold that the "idea" expressed was that of a businessperson contemplating suicide as seen from his own vantage point because only this reading explains the outcome.

    181

    [74] Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corp., 45 F.2d 119, 121 (2d Cir.1930) (citation omitted).

    182

    This passage is often referred to as the abstractions test, but it is no such thing. Judge Newman has lamented this parlance and the underlying difficulty it elides: "Judge Hand manifestly did not think of his observations as the enunciation of anything that might be called a `test.' His disclaimer (for himself and everyone else) of the ability to `fix the boundary' should have been sufficient caution that no `test' capable of yielding a result was intended." Hon. Jon O. Newman, New Lyrics for an Old Melody: The Idea/Expression Dichotomy in the Computer Age, 17 CARDOZO ARTS & ENT. L.J. 691, 694 (1999).

    183

    [75] Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487, 489 (2d Cir.1960).

    184

    [76] See, e.g., Attia v. Soc'y of the N.Y. Hosp., 201 F.3d 50, 54 (2d Cir.1999) (quoting Peter Pan Fabrics0; Williams v. Crichton, 84 F.3d 581, 587-588 (2d Cir.1996) ("The distinction between an idea and its expression is an elusive one."); Durham Indus., Inc. v. Tomy Corp., 630 F.2d 905, 912 (2d Cir.1980) (quoting Peter Pan Fabrics and characterizing "the idea/expression distinction" as "an imprecise tool"); Reyher v. Children's Television Workshop, 533 F.2d 87, 91 (2d Cir.1976) (acknowledging that "the demarcation between idea and expression may not be susceptible to overly helpful generalization"); Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, 446 F.2d 738, 742 (9th Cir.1971) ("At least in close cases, one may suspect, the classification the court selects may simply state the result reached rather than the reason for it."); Fournier v. Erickson, 202 F.Supp.2d 290, 295 (S.D.N.Y.2002) ("the distinction between the concept and the expression of a concept is a difficult one"); see also BENJAMIN KAPLAN, AN UNHURRIED VIEW OF COPYRIGHT 48 (1967) ("We are in a viscid quandary once we admit that `expression' can consist of anything not close aboard the particular collocation in its sequential order. The job of comparison is not much eased by speaking of patterns, nor is the task of deciding when the monopoly would be too broad for the public convenience made much neater by speaking of ideas and expression. The polarity proposed by Hand is indeed related geneologically to the ancient opposition of idea to form, but the ancestor is not readily recognized in the ambiguous and elusive descendant.").

    185

    [77] "[W]hile we are as aware as any one that the line, whereever it is drawn, will seem arbitrary, that is no excuse for not drawing it; it is a question such as courts must answer in nearly all cases." Nichols, 45 F.2d at 122.

    186

    [78] There appears to be no Supreme Court case explicitly making the distinction any earlier than Holmes v. Hurst, 174 U.S. 82, 19 S.Ct. 606, 43 L.Ed. 904 (1899), in which the Court observed that the Copyright Act protects "that arrangement of words which the author has selected to express his ideas." Id. at 86, 19 S.Ct. 606.

    187

    [79] One non-literary case in which the Supreme Court referred to the idea/expression distinction was Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217-18, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954), which is described below in footnote 80.

    188

    [80] In cases dealing with toys or products that have both functional and design aspects, courts sometimes use "idea" to refer to a gimmick embodied in the product. See, e.g., Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 217-18, 74 S.Ct. 460, 98 L.Ed. 630 (1954) (court, after introducing idea/expression dichotomy, stated that plaintiffs, who had copyrights in statuettes of human figures used as table lamps, "may not exclude others from using statuettes of human figures in table lamps; they may only prevent use of copies of their statuettes as such or as incorporated in some other article."); Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Kalpakian, 446 F.2d 738, 742 (9th Cir.1971) (bejeweled gold pin in the shape of a bee was an unprotected "idea"); Herbert Rosenthal Jewelry Corp. v. Honora Jewelry Co., 509 F.2d 64, 65-66 (2d Cir.1974) (same for turtle pins); Great Importations, Inc. v. Caffco Int'l, Inc., No. 95 Civ. 0514, 1997 WL 414111, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. July 24, 1997) (M.J.) ("To the degree the similarities between the two sculptures herein are simply because they are both three-piece sets of candleholders in the shape of the letters J, O and Y with baby angels and holly, those similarities are non-copyrightable ideas....").

    189

    This case does not concern any kind of gimmick, and the Court ventures no opinion about the applicability of the idea/expression dichotomy to any product that embodies a gimmick, including toys or other objects that combine function and design.

    190

    [81] See Gross v. Seligman, 212 F. 930, 931 (2d Cir.1914); Kaplan v. Stock Market Photo Agency, Inc., 133 F.Supp.2d 317, 323 (S.D.N.Y.2001); Andersson v. Sony Corp. of Am., No. 96 Civ. 7975(RO), 1997 WL 226310, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. May 2, 1997); Kisch v. Ammirati & Puris Inc., 657 F.Supp. 380, 382 (S.D.N.Y.1987); Pagano v. Chas. Beseler Co., 234 F. 963, 964 (S.D.N.Y.1916).

    191

    [82] The terminology can be still more confused. Consider this sentence, in a section of an opinion analyzing what was original, and hence protectible, in a photograph created by a freelancer in accordance with instructions from a defendant: "[D]efendants conclude that Fournier cannot assert copyright protection, to the extent that he does, over the expression of businessmen in traditional dress on their way to work, an idea which originated with McCann in any event." Fournier v. Erickson, 202 F.Supp.2d 290, 295 (S.D.N.Y.2002) (emphases added).

    192

    [83] 274 F.2d at 489.

    193

    [84] Newman, New Lyrics for an Old Melody, supra, at 697.

    194

    [85] 720 F.2d 231 (2d Cir.1983).

    195

    In that case, which considered the question whether the protagonist of the television series The Greatest American Hero infringed the copyright in the Superman character, Judge Newman observed that a tension between two different propositions dealing with the significance of differences between an allegedly infringing work and a copyrighted work "perhaps results from [those propositions'] formulation in the context of literary works and their subsequent application to graphic and three-dimensional works." Id. at 241.

    196

    [86] Newman, New Lyrics for an Old Melody, supra, at 698.

    197

    [87] Franklin Mint Corp. v. Nat'l Wildlife Art Exchange, Inc., 575 F.2d 62, 65 (3d Cir.1978); accord Kisch v. Ammirati & Puris Inc., 657 F.Supp. 380, 383 (S.D.N.Y.1987).

    198

    [88] 960 F.2d at 308 (first emphasis added).

    199

    [89] Def. Br. 6. See supra.

    200

    [90] See SHL Imaging, Inc. v. Artisan House, Inc., 117 F.Supp.2d 301, 314 (S.D.N.Y.2000) ("defendants' instructions were so general as to fall within the realm of unprotectible ideas. Thus, they cannot substantiate a work-for-hire authorship defense." (emphasis added)); Andersson v. Sony Corp., No. 96 Civ. 7975(RO), 1997 WL 226310, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. May 2, 1997) ("What these two photos may arguably share, the idea of a woman in futuristic garb becoming fascinated with an object held in her hand, is simply not protectible." (emphasis added)); Gentieu v. Tony Stone Images/Chicago, Inc., 255 F.Supp.2d 838, 849 (N.D.Ill.2003) ("Gentieu cannot claim a copyright in the idea of photographing naked or diapered babies or in any elements of expression that are intrinsic to that unprotected idea. Clearly the `poses' at issue in Gentieu's images capture the natural movements and facial expressions of infants.... Such poses are implicit in the very idea of a baby photograph and are not proper material for protection under Gentieu's copyrights." (emphases added)).

    201

    It is interesting to note that United Kingdom law faces a similar terminological problem and that the solution of Laddie and supporting authorities is to conclude that the generality of an "idea" is what determines its protectability:

    202

    "Confusion is caused in the law of copyright because of the use of the catchphrase `There is no copyright in ideas but only in the form of their expression'. Unless one understands what this means its utility is non-existent, or it is positively misleading. An artistic work of the imagination presupposes two kinds of ingredients: the conception of one or more ideas, and artistic dexterity and skill in their representation in the chosen medium. It is not the law that copyright protects the second kind of ingredient only. If that were so a debased copy which failed to capture the artist's dexterity and skill would not infringe, which plainly is not the case. Unless an artist is content merely to represent a pre-existent object (eg a building) or scene, it is part of his task as artist to exercise his imagination and in so doing he may create a pattern of ideas for incorporation in his finished work. This idea-pattern may be as much part of his work, and deserving of copyright protection, as the brushstrokes, pencil-lines, etc. The true proposition is that there is no copyright in a general idea, but that an original combination of ideas may [be protected]." 1 LADDIE § 4.43, at 212 (footnote omitted).

    203

    [91] 133 F.Supp.2d at 323 (emphases added).

    204

    [92] Yurman Design, Inc. v. PAJ, Inc., 262 F.3d 101, 111 (2d Cir.2001) (quoting Hamil America, Inc. v. GFI, 193 F.3d 92, 100 (2d Cir.1999) (quoting Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487, 489 (2d Cir.1960)) (internal quotation marks omitted)); accord Boisson v. Banian, Ltd., 273 F.3d 262, 272 (2d Cir.2001) (quoting Folio Impressions, Inc. v. Byer California, 937 F.2d 759, 765 (2d Cir.1991)).

    205

    [93] Hamil America, Inc., 193 F.3d at 101; accord Knitwaves, Inc. v. Lollytogs Ltd., 71 F.3d 996, 1002 (2d Cir.1995); Folio Impressions, 937 F.2d at 765-66; see also Boisson, 273 F.3d at 272.

    206

    [94] Boisson, 273 F.3d at 272 (citing Knitwaves, 71 F.3d at 1003); accord Hamil America, 193 F.3d at 101.

    207

    [95] 338 F.3d 127 (2d Cir.2003).

    208

    [96] See 237 F.Supp.2d 376, 386-88 (S.D.N.Y.2002).

    209

    [97] 338 F.3d at 130 (emphasis in original).

    210

    [98] Id. at 134-35 (emphasis in original).

    211

    [99] Id. at 132-33 (quoting Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp., 81 F.2d 49, 56 (2d Cir.1936)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

    212

    [100] 4 NIMMER § 13.03[B][1][a], at 13-63.

    213

    [101] 657 F.Supp. 380, 384 (S.D.N.Y.1987).

  • 4 Castle Rock Entertainment v. Carol Pub. Group (1998)

    1
    150 F.3d 132 (1998)
    2
    CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee,
    v.
    CAROL PUBLISHING GROUP, INC., Defendant-Cross Claimant-Appellant,
    Beth B. Golub, Defendant-Cross Defendant-Appellant.
    3
    No. 97-7992.
    4

    United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

    5
    Argued January 8, 1998.
    6
    Decided July 10, 1998.
    7

     

    8

    [133] [134] Melvin L. Wulf, Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, LLP, New York City, for Defendants-Appellants.

    9

    David Dunn, Davis, Weber & Edwards, P.C., New York City, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

    10

    Before: VAN GRAAFEILAND and WALKER, Circuit Judges, and RAKOFF, District Judge.[*]

    11

    [135] JOHN M. WALKER, Jr., Circuit Judge:

    12

    This case presents two interesting and somewhat novel issues of copyright law. The first is whether The Seinfeld Aptitude Test, a trivia quiz book devoted exclusively to testing its readers' recollection of scenes and events from the fictional television series Seinfeld, takes sufficient protected expression from the original, as evidenced by the book's substantial similarity to the television series, such that, in the absence of any defenses, the book would infringe the copyright in Seinfeld. The second is whether The Seinfeld Aptitude Test (also referred to as The SAT) constitutes fair use of the Seinfeld television series.

    13

    Defendants-appellants Carol Publishing Group, Inc. and Beth B. Golub appeal from the July 23, 1997 judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Sonia Sotomayor, District Judge) granting, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, plaintiff-appellee Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc.'s ("Castle Rock") motion for summary judgment; denying defendants' cross-motion for summary judgment; awarding Castle Rock $403,000 for defendants' copyright infringement; and permanently enjoining defendants from publishing The Seinfeld Aptitude Test.

    14

    We conclude that The SAT unlawfully copies from Seinfeld and that its copying does not constitute fair use and thus is an actionable infringement. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment in favor of Castle Rock.

    15
    Background
    16

    The material facts in this case are undisputed. Plaintiff Castle Rock is the producer and copyright owner of each episode of the Seinfeld television series. The series revolves around the petty tribulations in the lives of four single, adult friends in New York: Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Cosmo Kramer. Defendants are Beth Golub, the author, and Carol Publishing Group, Inc., the publisher, of The SAT, a 132-page book containing 643 trivia questions and answers about the events and characters depicted in Seinfeld. These include 211 multiple choice questions, in which only one out of three to five answers is correct; 93 matching questions; and a number of short-answer questions. The questions are divided into five levels of difficulty, labeled (in increasing order of difficulty) "Wuss Questions," "This, That, and the Other Questions," "Tough Monkey Questions," "Atomic Wedgie Questions," and "Master of Your Domain Questions." Selected examples from level 1 are indicative of the questions throughout The SAT:

    17
    1. To impress a woman, George passes himself off as
    18
    a) a gynecologist
    19
    b) a geologist
    20
    c) a marine biologist
    21
    d) a meteorologist
    22
    11. What candy does Kramer snack on while observing a surgical procedure from an operating-room balcony?
    23
    12. Who said, "I don't go for those nonrefundable deals ... I can't commit to a woman ... I'm not committing to an airline."?
    24
    a) Jerry
    25
    b) George
    26
    c) Kramer[2]
    27

    The book draws from 84 of the 86 Seinfeld episodes that had been broadcast as of the [136] time The SAT was published. Although Golub created the incorrect answers to the multiple choice questions, every question and correct answer has as its source a fictional moment in a Seinfeld episode. Forty-one questions and/or answers contain dialogue from Seinfeld. The single episode most drawn upon by The SAT, "The Cigar Store Indian," is the source of 20 questions that directly quote between 3.6% and 5.6% of that episode (defendants' and plaintiffs calculations, respectively).

    28

    The name "Seinfeld" appears prominently on the front and back covers of The SAT, and pictures of the principal actors in Seinfeld appear on the cover and on several pages of the book. On the back cover, a disclaimer states that "This book has not been approved or licensed by any entity involved in creating or producing Seinfeld."[3] The front cover bears the title "The Seinfeld Aptitude Test" and describes the book as containing "[h]undreds of spectacular questions of minute details from TV's greatest show about absolutely nothing." The back cover asks:

    29
    Just how well do you command the buzz-words, peccadilloes, petty annoyances, and triflingly complex escapades of Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Benes, George Costanza, and Kramer — the fabulously neurotic foursome that makes the offbeat hit TV series Seinfeld tick?
    30
    ....
    31
    If you think you know the answers — and really keep track of Seinfeld minutiae — challenge yourself and your friends with these 550 trivia questions and 10 extra matching quizzes. No, The Seinfeld Aptitude Test can't tell you whether you're Master of Your Domain, but it will certify your status as King or Queen of Seinfeld trivia. So twist open a Snapple, double-dip a chip, and open this book to satisfy your between-episode cravings.
    32

    Golub has described The SAT as a "natural outgrowth" of Seinfeld which, "like the Seinfeld show, is devoted to the trifling, picayune and petty annoyances encountered by the show's characters on a daily basis." According to Golub, she created The SAT by taking notes from Seinfeld programs at the time they were aired on television and subsequently reviewing videotapes of several of the episodes, as recorded by her or various friends.

    33

    The SAT's publication did not immediately provoke a challenge. The National Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcasted Seinfeld, requested free copies of The SAT from defendants and distributed them together with promotions for the program. Seinfeld's executive producer characterized The SAT as "a fun little book." There is no evidence that The SAT's publication diminished Seinfeld's profitability, and in fact Seinfeld's audience grew after The SAT was first published.

    34

    Castle Rock has nevertheless been highly selective in marketing products associated with Seinfeld, rejecting numerous proposals from publishers seeking approval for a variety of projects related to the show. Castle Rock licensed one Seinfeld book, The Entertainment Weekly Seinfeld Companion, and has licensed the production of a CD-ROM product that includes discussions of Seinfeld episodes; the CD-ROM allegedly might ultimately include a trivia bank. Castle Rock claims in this litigation that it plans to pursue a more aggressive marketing strategy for Seinfeld-related products, including "publication of books relating to Seinfeld."

    35

    In November 1994, Castle Rock notified defendants of its copyright and trademark infringement claims. In February 1995, after defendants continued to distribute The SAT, Castle Rock filed this action alleging federal copyright and trademark infringement and state law unfair competition. Subsequently, both parties moved, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, for summary judgment on both the copyright and unfair competition claims.

    36

    The district court granted summary judgment to Castle Rock on the copyright claim. It held that defendants had violated plaintiff's copyrights in Seinfeld and that such copying did not constitute fair use. See Castle Rock Entertainment v. Carol Publ'g Group, Inc., 955 F.Supp. 260, 274 (S.D.N.Y. 1997). The district court did not grant summary [137] judgment to either party on the unfair competition claim. See id. The parties then stipulated to damages and attorneys' fees on the copyright infringement claim and, presumably to facilitate the appeal, to the dismissal without prejudice of all remaining claims. Carol Publishing's cross-claims against Golub were dismissed with prejudice. The district court entered final judgment on the copyright infringement claim, awarded Castle Rock $403,000 with interest, permanently enjoined defendants from publishing or distributing The SAT, and ordered defendants to destroy all copies of The SAT in their custody or control. Defendants now appeal.

    37
    Discussion
    38
    Standard of Review
    39

    Summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party can show that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The court "must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party." Garza v. Marine Transp. Lines, Inc., 861 F.2d 23, 26 (2d Cir.1988). Although "[f]air use is a mixed question of law and fact," Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enter., 471 U.S. 539, 560, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 85 L.Ed.2d 588 (1985), this court has on a number of occasions "resolved fair use determinations at the summary judgment stage" where, as here, there are no genuine issues of material fact. Wright v. Warner Books, Inc., 953 F.2d 731, 735 (2d Cir.1991); Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 137 F.3d 109 (2d Cir.1998) (affirming summary judgment awarded to defendants on basis of fair use defense); Harper & Row, 471 U.S. at 560, 105 S.Ct. 2218. We review the district court's legal conclusions de novo and its findings of fact for clear error. See American Geophysical Union v. Texaco Inc., 60 F.3d 913, 918 (2d Cir.1994).

    40
    Copyright Infringement
    41

    The Copyright Act of 1976 ("Copyright Act"), 17 U.S.C. §§ 101-803, grants copyright owners a bundle of exclusive rights, including the rights to "reproduce the copyrighted work in copies" and "to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work." Id. § 106. "Copyright infringement is established when the owner of a valid copyright demonstrates unauthorized copying." Repp v. Webber, 132 F.3d 882, 889 (2d Cir.1997); see Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 361, 111 S.Ct. 1282, 113 L.Ed.2d 358 (1991). There are two main components of this prima facie case of infringement: "a plaintiff must first show that his work was actually copied .... [and] then must show that the copying amounts to an improper or unlawful appropriation." Laureyssens v. Idea Group, Inc., 964 F.2d 131, 139-40 (2d Cir.1992) (quotation marks and citations omitted). Actual copying may be established "either by direct evidence of copying or by indirect evidence, including access to the copyrighted work, similarities that are probative of copying between the works, and expert testimony." Id. at 140. As we have noted before, "probative," rather than "substantial" similarity is the correct term in referring to the plaintiff's initial burden of proving actual copying by indirect evidence. See Webber, 132 F.3d at 889 n. 1; Laureyssens, 964 F.2d at 140. "It is only after actual copying is established that one claiming infringement" then proceeds to demonstrate that the copying was improper or unlawful by showing that the second work bears "substantial similarity" to protected expression in the earlier work. Webber, 132 F.3d at 889; Laureyssens, 964 F.2d at 140.

    42

    In the instant case, no one disputes that Castle Rock owns valid copyrights in the Seinfeld television programs and that defendants actually copied from those programs in creating The SAT. Golub freely admitted that she created The SAT by taking notes from Seinfeld programs at the time they were aired on television and subsequently reviewing videotapes of several of the episodes that she or her friends recorded. Since the fact of copying is acknowledged and undisputed, the critical question for decision is whether the copying was unlawful or improper in that it took a sufficient amount of protected expression from Seinfeld as evidenced by its substantial similarity to such expression.

    43

    [138]

    44

     

    45
    Substantial Similarity
    46

    We have stated that "substantial similarity"

    47
    requires that the copying [be] quantitatively and qualitatively sufficient to support the legal conclusion that infringement (actionable copying) has occurred. The qualitative component concerns the copying of expression, rather than ideas [, facts, works in the public domain, or any other non-protectable elements].... The quantitative component generally concerns the amount of the copyrighted work that is copied,
    48

    which must be more than "de minimis." Ringgold v. Black Entertainment Television, Inc., 126 F.3d 70, 75 (2d Cir.1997) (emphasis added).

    49

    As to the quantitative element, we conclude that The SAT has crossed the de minimis threshold. At the outset, we observe that the fact that the copying appears in question and answer form is by itself without particular consequence: the trivia quiz copies fragments of Seinfeld in the same way that a collection of Seinfeld jokes or trivia would copy fragments of the series. In order to determine the quantitative extent of the defendants' copying, we must then decide whether to analyze separately the amount of expression copied from each individually copyrighted Seinfeld episode, or to analyze in the aggregate the amount copied from the eighty-four Seinfeld episodes. As defendants observe, 17 U.S.C. § 106 speaks throughout in the singular, referring to the allegedly infringed "work," thus bolstering an individual-episode analysis. Our precedents, however, tend to support the aggregate analysis. See Twin Peaks Prods., Inc. v. Publications Int'l, Ltd., 996 F.2d 1366, 1372-73, 1381 (2d Cir.1993) (finding substantial similarity between infringing book and 8 episodes of Twin Peaks weekly television series seen as a whole, but awarding statutory damages on per-episode basis); Wainwright Secs. Inc. v. Wall St. Transcript Corp., 558 F.2d 91, 94 (2d Cir.1977) (abstracts of a number of research reports treated cumulatively in fair use analysis); see also Craft v. Kobler, 667 F.Supp. 120, 124-25 (S.D.N.Y.1987) (passages taken from 15 separate books of copyright holder treated cumulatively in finding infringement); cf. New Era Publications Int'l, ApS v. Carol Publ'g Group, 904 F.2d 152, 158 (2d Cir.1990) (in analyzing whether critical biography was fair use of 48 original writings, court noted that biography "uses overall a small percentage of [plaintiff's] works" but also noted that percentage of copying taken from each individual work was not "unfair") (emphasis added); but see Salinger v. Random House, Inc., 811 F.2d 90, 98 (2d Cir.1987) (copying of Salinger letters not fair use because, among other factors, secondary work copied one-third of 17 letters and 10 percent of 42 letters).

    50

    As in Twin Peaks, for the purposes of the quantitative copying analysis we shall treat Seinfeld — a discrete, continuous television series — as a single work.[4] Where the secondary work focuses on an entire continuous television series such as Seinfeld, there is no basis for looking in isolation at the amount copied from each separately copyrighted episode. Although 17 U.S.C. § 106 speaks in terms of a singular copyrighted "work," it would elevate form over substance to conclude that The SAT's copying of 643 fragments from 84 individually copyrighted Seinfeld episodes is indistinguishable from a case in which a 634-question trivia quiz book poses a few questions from each of 84 unrelated television programs, books, movies, or any combination of creative works that do not constitute a discrete series of works. Had The SAT copied a few fragments from each of 84 unrelated television programs (perhaps comprising the entire line-up on broadcast television), defendants would have a stronger case under the de minimis doctrine. By copying not a few but 643 fragments from the Seinfeld television series, however, The SAT has plainly crossed the quantitative copying threshold under Ringgold.

    51

    As to Ringgold's qualitative component, each SAT trivia question is based directly upon original, protectable expression in Seinfeld. As noted by the district court, The SAT did not copy from Seinfeld unprotected [139] facts, but, rather, creative expression. Cf. Feist, 499 U.S. at 364, 111 S.Ct. 1282 (finding no infringement where defendant produced a multi-county phone directory, in part, by obtaining names and phone numbers from plaintiffs' single-county directory). Unlike the facts in a phone book, which "do not owe their origin to an act of authorship," id. at 347, 111 S.Ct. 1282, each "fact" tested by The SAT is in reality fictitious expression created by Seinfeld's authors. The SAT does not quiz such true facts as the identity of the actors in Seinfeld, the number of days it takes to shoot an episode, the biographies of the actors, the location of the Seinfeld set, etc. Rather, The SAT tests whether the reader knows that the character Jerry places a Pez dispenser on Elaine's leg during a piano recital, that Kramer enjoys going to the airport because he's hypnotized by the baggage carousels, and that Jerry, opining on how to identify a virgin, said "It's not like spotting a toupee." Because these characters and events spring from the imagination of Seinfeld's authors, The SAT plainly copies copyrightable, creative expression.[5] See Feist, 499 U.S. at 347, 111 S.Ct. 1282 (discussing distinction between discovered facts, which do not "owe their origin to an act of authorship" and therefore are not protected by copyright, and created facts, which constitute original, protected expression).

    52

    We find support for this conclusion in a previous case in which we held that a series of still photographs of a ballet may in some cases infringe the copyright in an original choreographic work. See Horgan v. Macmillan, Inc., 789 F.2d 157, 163 (2d Cir.1986). The defendants in Horgan claimed that still photographs could not "capture the flow of movement, which is the essence of dance," that "the staged performance could not be recreated from the photographs," and thus, that the photographs were not substantially similar to the choreographic work. Id. at 161-62 (quotation marks omitted). Although noting that the issue "was not a simple one," this court rejected that argument, holding that "the standard for determining copyright infringement is not whether the original could be recreated from the allegedly infringing copy, but whether the latter is substantially similar to the former." Id. at 162 (quotation marks omitted). That observation applies with equal force to the trivia quiz fragments in this case. Although Seinfeld could not be "recreated" from The SAT, Castle Rock has nevertheless established both the quantitative and qualitative components of the substantial similarity test, establishing a prima facie case of copyright infringement.

    53
    Other Tests
    54

    As defendants note, substantial similarity usually "arises out of a claim of infringement as between comparable works .... [where] because of the equivalent nature of the competing works, the question of similarity can be tested conventionally by comparing comparable elements of the two works." Because in the instant case the original and secondary works are of different genres and to a lesser extent because they are in different media, tests for substantial similarity other than the quantitative/qualitative approach are not particularly helpful to our analysis.

    55

    Under the "ordinary observer" test, for example, "[t]wo works are substantially similar where `the ordinary observer, unless he set out to detect the disparities, would be disposed to overlook them, and regard [the] aesthetic appeal [of the two works] as the same.'" Arica Inst., Inc. v. Palmer, 970 F.2d 1067, 1072 (2d Cir.1992) (quoting Peter Pan Fabrics, Inc. v. Martin Weiner Corp., 274 F.2d 487, 489 (2d Cir.1960) (L.Hand, J.) (comparing dress designs)) (alterations in original). Undoubtedly, Judge Hand did not have in mind a comparison of aesthetic appeal as between a television series and a trivia quiz and, in the usual case, we might [140] question whether any "ordinary observer" would "regard [the] aesthetic appeal" in a situation-comedy television program as being identical to that of any book, let alone a trivia quiz book, about that program. Cf. Laureyssens, 964 F.2d at 132, 141 (applying "ordinary observer" test to compare two sets of foam rubber puzzles). We note here, however, that plaintiff has a plausible claim that there is a common aesthetic appeal between the two works based on The SAT's plain copying of Seinfeld and Golub's statement on the back cover that the book was designed to complement the aesthetic appeal of the television series. See The SAT ("So twist open a Snapple, double-dip a chip, and open this book to satisfy your between episode cravings.").

    56

    Under the "total concept and feel" test, urged by defendants, we analyze "the similarities in such aspects as the total concept and feel, theme, characters, plot, sequence, pace, and setting" of the original and the allegedly infringing works. Williams v. Crichton, 84 F.3d 581, 588 (2d Cir.1996) (comparing children's books with novel and movie); Reyher v. Children's Television Workshop, 533 F.2d 87, 91 (2d Cir.1976) (comparing children's book with story in Sesame Street Magazine). Defendants contend that The SAT and the Seinfeld programs are incomparable in conventional terms such as plot, sequence, themes, pace, and setting. For example, The SAT has no plot; "[t]he notion of pace ... cannot be said even to exist in the book"; The SAT's "sequence has no relationship to the sequences of any of the Seinfeld episodes, since it is a totally random and scattered collection of questions relating to events that occurred in the shows"; and The SAT's only theme "is how much a Seinfeld fan can remember of 84 different programs." The total concept and feel test, however, is simply not helpful in analyzing works that, because of their different genres and media, must necessarily have a different concept and feel. Indeed, many "derivative" works of different genres, in which copyright owners have exclusive rights, see 17 U.S.C. § 106, may have a different total concept and feel from the original work.

    57

    Finally, we do not apply the "fragmented literal similarity" test,[6] which focuses upon copying of direct quotations or close paraphrasing, or the "comprehensive nonliteral similarity" test, which examines whether "the fundamental essence or structure of one work is duplicated in another." 4 Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 13.03[A][1], at 13-29, § 13.03[A][2], at 13-45 (1997) (hereafter "Nimmer"); Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1372-73(applying Nimmer test); Warner Bros. Inc. v. American Broad. Cos., 720 F.2d 231, 240, 242 (2d Cir.1983) (applying Nimmer test to compare Superman and The Greatest American Hero). In the instant case, because the direct quotations or close paraphrases that The SAT copied from the Seinfeld series are few and almost irrelevant to The SAT, undue focus upon these isolated quotations could improperly distract us from inquiring as to whether substantial similarity exists between Seinfeld and The SAT.

    58

    Castle Rock's comprehensive nonliteral similarity argument — that the defendants "literally constructed the SAT with 643 fragments of Seinfeld's creative whole" — is also unhelpful to our analysis and unnecessary to our determination that The SAT is substantially similar to Seinfeld. Without having viewed Seinfeld itself, no SAT reader could plausibly "construct" in his or her mind the plot of any Seinfeld episode, nor any of Seinfeld's settings (the Seinfeld and Kramer apartments, the foursome's restaurant hangout, George Steinbrenner's office, etc.), nor even the four principal Seinfeld characters. Nor does The SAT "[duplicate] the fundamental essence or structure" of Seinfeld. 4 Nimmer § 13.03[A][1], at 13-29; cf. Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d 1372-73 (finding "substantial similarity through comprehensive nonliteral similarity" where chapter of infringing book "is essentially a detailed recounting of the first eight episodes of the [television] series" and "[e]very intricate plot twist and element of character development appear in the Book [141] in the same sequence as in the teleplays"). However, "[t]he standard for determining copyright infringement is not whether the original could be recreated from the allegedly infringing copy, but whether the latter is `substantially similar' to the former," Horgan, 789 F.2d at 162, and in copying a sufficient amount of protected expression from the Seinfeld television series, The SAT easily passes the threshold of substantial similarity between the contents of the secondary work and the protected expression in the original.

    59
    Fair Use
    60

    Defendants claim that, even if The SAT's copying of Seinfeld constitutes prima facie infringement, The SAT is nevertheless a fair use of Seinfeld. "From the infancy of copyright protection," the fair use doctrine "has been thought necessary to fulfill copyright's very purpose, `[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.'" Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 575, 114 S.Ct. 1164, 127 L.Ed.2d 500 (1994) (quoting U.S. Const., art. I, § 8, cl. 8). As noted in Campbell, "in truth, in literature, in science and in art, there are, and can be, few, if any, things, which in an abstract sense, are strictly new and original throughout. Every book in literature, science and art, borrows, and must necessarily borrow, and use much which was well known and used before." Id. (quotation marks omitted). Until the 1976 Copyright Act, the doctrine of fair use grew exclusively out of the common law. See id. at 576, 114 S.Ct. 1164; Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F.Cas. 342, 348 (C.D.Mass.1900) (CCD Mass. 1841) (Story, J.) (stating fair use test); Pierre N. Leval, Toward a Fair Use Standard, 103 Harv. L.Rev. 1105, 1105 (1990) ("Leval").

    61

    In the Copyright Act, Congress restated the common law tradition of fair use:

    62
    [T]he fair use of a copyrighted work ... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —
    63
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    64
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    65
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    66
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    67

    17 U.S.C. § 107. This section "intended that courts continue the common law tradition of fair use adjudication" and "permits and requires courts to avoid rigid application of the copyright statute, when, on occasion, it would stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 577, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (quotation marks omitted). Fair use analysis, therefore, always "calls for case-by-case analysis." Id. The fair use examples provided in § 107 are "illustrative and not limitative" and "provide only general guidance about the sorts of copying that courts and Congress most commonly had found to be fair uses." Id. at 577-78, 114 S.Ct. 1164. Similarly, the four listed statutory factors in § 107 guide but do not control our fair use analysis and "are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright." Id.; see 4 Nimmer § 13.05[A], at 13-153 ("[T]he factors contained in Section 107 are merely by way of example, and are not an exhaustive enumeration."). The ultimate test of fair use, therefore, is whether the copyright law's goal of "promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts," U.S. Const., art. I, § 8, cl. 8, "would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it." Arica, 970 F.2d at 1077.

    68
    Purpose/Character of Use
    69

    The first fair use factor to consider is "the purpose and character of the [allegedly infringing] use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." 17 U.S.C. § 107(1). That The SAT's use is commercial, at most, "tends to weigh against a finding of fair use." [142] Campbell, 510 U.S. at 585, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (quotation marks omitted); Texaco, 60 F.3d at 921. But we do not make too much of this point. As noted in Campbell, "nearly all of the illustrative uses listed in the preamble paragraph of § 107, including news reporting, comment, criticism, teaching, scholarship, and research ... are generally conducted for profit in this country," 510 U.S. at 584, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (quotation marks omitted), and "no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money," id. (quoting 3 Boswell's Life of Johnson 19 (G. Hill ed.1934)). We therefore do not give much weight to the fact that the secondary use was for commercial gain.

    70

    The more critical inquiry under the first factor and in fair use analysis generally is whether the allegedly infringing work "merely supersedes" the original work "or instead adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new ... meaning [] or message," in other words "whether and to what extent the new work is `transformative.'" Id. at 579, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (quoting Leval at 1111). If "the secondary use adds value to the original — if [copyrightable expression in the original work] is used as raw material, transformed in the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandings — this is the very type of activity that the fair use doctrine intends to protect for the enrichment of society." Leval at 1111. In short, "the goal of copyright, to promote science and the arts, is generally furthered by the creation of transformative works." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 579, 114 S.Ct. 1164.

    71

    Defendants claim two primary "transformative" qualities of The SAT. First, as noted by the district court, "a text testing one's knowledge of Joyce's Ulysses, or Shakespeare's Hamlet, would qualify as `criticism, comment, scholarship, or research,' or such. The same must be said, then, of a text testing one's knowledge of Castle Rock's Seinfeld." Castle Rock, 955 F.Supp. at 268 (citing Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1374 ("A comment is as eligible for fair use protection when it concerns `Masterpiece Theater' and appears in the New York Review of Books as when it concerns `As the World Turns' and appears in Soap Opera Digest.")). In other words, the fact that the subject matter of the quiz is plebeian, banal, or ordinary stuff does not alter the fair use analysis. Criticism, comment, scholarship, research, and other potential fair uses are no less protectable because their subject is the ordinary.

    72

    Second, defendants style The SAT as a work "decod[ing] the obsession with ... and mystique that surround[s] `Seinfeld,'" by "critically restructur[ing] [Seinfeld's mystique] into a system complete with varying levels of `mastery' that relate the reader's control of the show's trivia to knowledge of and identification with their hero, Jerry Seinfeld." Citing one of their own experts for the proposition that "[t]he television environment cannot speak for itself but must be spoken for and about," defendants argue that "The SAT is a quintessential example of critical text of the TV environment .... expos[ing] all of the show's nothingness to articulate its true motive forces and its social and moral dimensions." (Quotation marks omitted). Castle Rock dismisses these arguments as post hoc rationalizations, claiming that had defendants been half as creative in creating The SAT as were their lawyers in crafting these arguments about transformation, defendants might have a colorable fair use claim.

    73

    Any transformative purpose possessed by The SAT is slight to non-existent. We reject the argument that The SAT was created to educate Seinfeld viewers or to criticize, "expose," or otherwise comment upon Seinfeld. The SAT's purpose, as evidenced definitively by the statements of the book's creators and by the book itself, is to repackage Seinfeld to entertain Seinfeld viewers. The SAT's back cover makes no mention of exposing Seinfeld to its readers, for example, as a pitiably vacuous reflection of a puerile and pervasive television culture, but rather urges SAT readers to "open this book to satisfy [their] between-episode [Seinfeld] cravings." Golub, The SAT's author, described the trivia quiz book not as a commentary or a Seinfeld research tool, but as an effort to "capture Seinfeld's flavor in quiz book fashion." Finally, even viewing The SAT in the light most favorable to defendants, we find scant [143] reason to conclude that this trivia quiz book seeks to educate, criticize, parody, comment, report upon, or research Seinfeld, or otherwise serve a transformative purpose.[7] The book does not contain commentary or analysis about Seinfeld, nor does it suggest how The SAT can be used to research Seinfeld; rather, the book simply poses trivia questions. The SAT's plain purpose, therefore, is not to expose Seinfeld's "nothingness," but to satiate Seinfeld fans' passion for the "nothingness" that Seinfeld has elevated into the realm of protectable creative expression.

    74

    Although a secondary work need not necessarily transform the original work's expression to have a transformative purpose, see, e.g., 4 Nimmer § 13.05[D][2], at 13-227-13-228 (discussing reproduction of entire works in judicial proceedings), the fact that The SAT so minimally alters Seinfeld's original expression in this case is further evidence of The SAT's lack of transformative purpose. To be sure, the act of testing trivia about a creative work, in question and answer form, involves some creative expression. While still minimal, it does require posing the questions and hiding the correct answer among three or four incorrect ones.[8] Also, dividing the trivia questions into increasing levels of difficulty is somewhat more original than arranging names in a telephone book in alphabetical order. See Feist, 499 U.S. at 362-63, 111 S.Ct. 1282. The SAT's incorrect multiple choice answers are also original. However, the work as a whole, drawn directly from the Seinfeld episodes without substantial alteration, is far less transformative than other works we have held not to constitute fair use. See, e.g., Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1378 (book about Twin Peaks television series that discusses show's popularity, characters, actors, plots, creator, music, and poses trivia questions about show held not to be fair use).

    75

    Finally, we note a potential source of confusion in our copyright jurisprudence over the use of the term "transformative." A "derivative work," over which a copyright owner has exclusive control, is defined as

    76
    a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.
    77

    17 U.S.C. §§ 101, 106(2) (emphasis added). Although derivative works that are subject to the author's copyright transform an original work into a new mode of presentation, such works — unlike works of fair use — take expression for purposes that are not "transformative."[9] In the instant case, since The SAT has transformed Seinfeld's expression into trivia quiz book form with little, if any, transformative purpose, the first fair use factor weighs against defendants.

    78
    Nature of the Copyrighted Work
    79

    The second statutory factor, "the nature of the copyrighted work," 17 U.S.C. § 107(2), "calls for recognition that some works are closer to the core of intended copyright protection than others, with the consequence that fair use is more difficult to establish when the former works are copied." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 586, 114 S.Ct. 1164. Defendants concede that the scope of fair use is somewhat narrower with respect to fictional works, such as Seinfeld, than to factual works. See Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 237, 110 S.Ct. 1750, 109 L.Ed.2d 184 (1990) ("In general, fair use is more [144] likely to be found in factual works than in fictional works"); Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1376 (second factor "favor[s] ... creative and fictional work"). Although this factor may be of less (or even of no) importance when assessed in the context of certain transformative uses, see, e.g., Campbell, 510 U.S. at 586, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (creative nature of original "Pretty Woman" song "not much help" to fair use analysis "since parodies almost invariably copy ... expressive works"), the fictional nature of the copyrighted work remains significant in the instant case, where the secondary use is at best minimally transformative. Thus, the second statutory factor favors the plaintiff.

    80
    Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used in Relation to the Copyrighted Work as a Whole
    81

    As a preliminary matter, the district court held that its determination that The SAT is substantially similar to Seinfeld "`should suffice for a determination that the third fair use factor favors the plaintiff.'" Castle Rock, 955 F.Supp. at 269-70 (quoting Twin Peaks, 996 F.2d at 1377). However, because secondary users need invoke the fair use defense only where there is substantial similarity between the original and allegedly infringing works, and thus actionable copying, the district court's analysis is of little if any assistance. Under the district court's analysis, the third fair use factor would always and unfairly favor the original copyright owner claiming no fair use. See 4 Nimmer § 13.05[A], at 13-152 ("[F]air use is a defense not because of the absence of substantial similarity but rather despite the fact that the similarity is substantial.").

    82

    In Campbell, a decision post-dating Twin Peaks, the Supreme Court clarified that the third factor — the amount and substantiality of the portion of the copyrighted work used — must be examined in context. The inquiry must focus upon whether "[t]he extent of ... copying" is consistent with or more than necessary to further "the purpose and character of the use." 510 U.S. at 586-87, 114 S.Ct. 1164; see Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 449-50, 104 S.Ct. 774, 78 L.Ed.2d 574 (1984) (reproduction of entire work "does not have its ordinary effect of militating against a finding of fair use" as to home videotaping of television programs); Harper & Row, 471 U.S. at 564, 105 S.Ct. 2218 ("[E]ven substantial quotations might qualify as fair use in a review of a published work or a news account of a speech" but not in a scoop of a soon-to-be-published memoir.). "[B]y focussing [sic] on the amount and substantiality of the original work used by the secondary user, we gain insight into the purpose and character of the use as we consider whether the quantity of the material used was reasonable in relation to the purpose of the copying." Texaco, 60 F.3d at 926 (quotation marks omitted). In Campbell, for example, the Supreme Court determined that a "parody must be able to `conjure up' at least enough of [the] original [work] to make the object of its critical wit recognizable" and then determined whether the amount used of the original work was "no more than necessary" to satisfy the purpose of parody. 510 U.S. at 588-89, 114 S.Ct. 1164.

    83

    In the instant case, it could be argued that The SAT could not expose Seinfeld's "nothingness" without repeated, indeed exhaustive examples deconstructing Seinfeld's humor, thereby emphasizing Seinfeld's meaninglessness to The SAT's readers. That The SAT posed as many as 643 trivia questions to make this rather straightforward point, however, suggests that The SAT's purpose was entertainment, not commentary. Such an argument has not been advanced on appeal, but if it had been, it would not disturb our conclusion that, under any fair reading, The SAT does not serve a critical or otherwise transformative purpose. Accordingly, the third factor weighs against fair use.

    84
    Effect of Use Upon Potential Market for or Value of Copyrighted Work
    85

    Defendants claim that the fourth factor favors their case for fair use because Castle Rock has offered no proof of actual market harm to Seinfeld caused by The SAT. To the contrary, Seinfeld's audience grew after publication of The SAT, and Castle Rock has evidenced no interest in publishing Seinfeld [145] trivia quiz books and only minimal interest in publishing Seinfeld-related books.

    86

    The Supreme Court has recently retreated from its earlier cases suggesting that the fourth statutory factor is the most important element of fair use, see Harper & Row, 471 U.S. at 566, 105 S.Ct. 2218, recognizing instead that "[a]ll [factors] are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright," Campbell, 510 U.S. at 578, 114 S.Ct. 1164; see Texaco, 60 F.3d at 926 (applying Campbell approach). Under this factor, we "consider not only the extent of market harm caused by the particular actions of the alleged infringer, but also whether unrestricted and widespread conduct of the sort engaged in by the defendant ... would result in a substantially adverse impact on the potential market for the original." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 590, 114 S.Ct. 1164 (quotation marks and citation omitted). The fourth factor must also "take account ... of harm to the market for derivative works," id., defined as those markets "that creators of original works would in general develop or license others to develop," id. at 592, 114 S.Ct. 1164.

    87

    In considering the fourth factor, our concern is not whether the secondary use suppresses or even destroys the market for the original work or its potential derivatives, but whether the secondary use usurps or substitutes for the market of the original work. Id. at 593, 114 S.Ct. 1164. The more transformative the secondary use, the less likelihood that the secondary use substitutes for the original. Id. at 591, 114 S.Ct. 1164. As noted by the district court, "[b]y the very nature of [transformative] endeavors, persons other than the copyright holder are undoubtedly better equipped, and more likely, to fill these particular market and intellectual niches." Castle Rock, 955 F.Supp. at 271. And yet the fair use, being transformative, might well harm, or even destroy, the market for the original. See Campbell, 510 U.S. at 591-92, 114 S.Ct. 1164 ("[A] lethal parody, like a scathing theater review, kills demand for the original, [but] does not produce a harm cognizable under the Copyright Act."); New Era Publications, 904 F.2d at 160 ("a critical biography serves a different function than does an authorized, favorable biography, and thus injury to the potential market for the favorable biography by the publication of the unfavorable biography does not affect application of factor four").[10]

    88

    Unlike parody, criticism, scholarship, news reporting, or other transformative uses, The SAT substitutes for a derivative market that a television program copyright owner such as Castle Rock "would in general develop or license others to develop." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 592, 114 S.Ct. 1164.[11] Because The SAT borrows exclusively from Seinfeld and not from any other television or entertainment programs, The SAT is likely to fill a market niche that Castle Rock would in general develop. Moreover, as noted by the district court, this "Seinfeld trivia game is not critical of the program, nor does it parody the program; if anything, SAT pays homage to Seinfeld." Castle Rock, 955 F.Supp. at 271-72. Although Castle Rock has evidenced little if any interest in exploiting this market for derivative works based on Seinfeld, such as by creating and publishing Seinfeld trivia books (or at least trivia books that endeavor to "satisfy" the "between-episode [146] cravings" of Seinfeld lovers), the copyright law must respect that creative and economic choice. "It would ... not serve the ends of the Copyright Act — i.e., to advance the arts — if artists were denied their monopoly over derivative versions of their creative works merely because they made the artistic decision not to saturate those markets with variations of their original." Castle Rock, 955 F.Supp. at 272; see Salinger, 811 F.2d at 99 ("The need to assess the effect on the market for Salinger's letters is not lessened by the fact that their author has disavowed any intention to publish them during his lifetime."). The fourth statutory factor therefore favors Castle Rock.

    89
    Other Factors
    90

    As we have noted, the four statutory fair use factors are non-exclusive and serve only as a guide to promote the purposes underlying the copyright law. One factor that is of no relevance to the fair use equation, however, is defendants' continued distribution of The SAT after Castle Rock notified defendants of its copyright infringement claim, because "[i]f the use is otherwise fair, then no permission need be sought or granted.... [B]eing denied permission to use a work does not weigh against a finding of fair use." Campbell, 510 U.S. at 585 n. 18, 114 S.Ct. 1164; see Wright, 953 F.2d at 737 (rejecting as irrelevant to fair use analysis argument that defendant failed to get plaintiff's permission to create work).

    91

    We also note that free speech and public interest considerations are of little relevance in this case, which concerns garden-variety infringement of creative fictional works. See 4 Nimmer § 13.05[B][4], at 13-205 ("The public interest is also a factor that continually informs the fair use analysis."); cf. Time Inc. v. Bernard Geis Assocs., 293 F.Supp. 130, 146 (S.D.N.Y.1968) (discussing importance of access to information about President Kennedy assassination in fair use analysis of home video of assassination).

    92
    Aggregate Assessment
    93

    Considering all of the factors discussed above, we conclude that the copyright law's objective "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" would be undermined by permitting The SAT's copying of Seinfeld, see Arica, 970 F.2d at 1077, and we therefore reject defendants' fair use defense. Finally, we note that defendants do not assert that Castle Rock abandoned, forfeited, or misused copyrights in Seinfeld, and that defendants have asserted no defense on appeal other than that of fair use.

    94
    Conclusion
    95

    Undoubtedly, innumerable books could "expose" the "nothingness" or otherwise comment upon, criticize, educate the public about, or research Seinfeld and contemporary television culture. The SAT, however, is not such a book. For the reasons set forth above, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.[12]

    96

    [*] The Honorable Jed S. Rakoff, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, sitting by designation.

    97

    [2] An example of the trivia quiz book's matching questions (entitled "Family Trees") is as follows:

    98

    1. Cousin Jeffrey 2. Uncle Leo 3. Manya 4. Isaac 5. Mr. Seinfeld 6. Mrs. Seinfeld 7. Mr. Benes 8. Mr. Costanza 9. Mrs. Costanza 10. Mrs. Kramer.

    99

    (a) Former condo association president

    100

    (b) Drinks Colt 45 in the nude

    101

    (c) Arm-grabbing, loquacious garbage can picker

    102

    (d) Leaves a rent-controlled New York City apartment for the Phoenix sunshine

    103

    (e) Gruff-talking, well-known novelist

    104

    (f) New York City employee who watches the Nature Channel

    105

    (g) Wears sneakers in the swimming pool and has to "get the good spot in front of the good building in the good neighborhood"

    106

    (h) Enjoys the heat and never uses air conditioning

    107

    (i) Elderly immigrant whose beloved pony was "the pride of Krakow"

    108

    (j) Nagging, shrill-voiced Glamour magazine reader who was hospitalized for a back injury

    109

    [3] As noted later, this opinion does not address issues of trademark or unfair competition.

    110

    [4] Because the parties have stipulated to damages, we need not address, as did Twin Peaks, whether damages should be assessed on a perepisode basis.

    111

    [5] We appreciate that the line between unprotected fact and protected creative expression may in some instances be less clear. Where a "fictional" single mother in a popular television series engages in real political discourse with a real Vice-President of the United States, for example, it is less clear whether the television "script" is fiction — in the sense that it is only a television script, or fact — in the sense that it is a real dialogue with a real political figure about contemporary issues. Whatever the line between historical fact and creative expression, however, Seinfeld is securely on the side of creative expression.

    112

    [6] We do not understand Ringgold's quantitative analysis to be the same as a fragmented similarity analysis. The former considers the amount of copying not only of direct quotations and close paraphrasing, but also of all other protectable expression in the original work.

    113

    [7] Had The SAT's incorrect answer choices attempted to parody Seinfeld, for example, defendants would have a stronger case for fair use. See Campbell, 510 U.S. at 588, 114 S.Ct. 1164.

    114

    [8] In the time it took to write this last sentence, for example, one could have easily created the following trivia question about the film trilogy Star Wars: "Luke Skywalker was aghast to learn that Darth Vader was Luke's (a) father (b) father-in-law (c) best friend (d) Jerry Seinfeld," and innumerable other such trivia questions about original creative works.

    115

    [9] Indeed, if the secondary work sufficiently transforms the expression of the original work such that the two works cease to be substantially similar, then the secondary work is not a derivative work and, for that matter, does not infringe the copyright of the original work. See 1 Nimmer § 3.01, at 3-3 (stating that "a work will be considered a derivative work only if it would be considered an infringing work" if it were unauthorized).

    116

    [10] By the same token, because a "film producer's appropriation of a composer's previously unknown song that turns the song into a commercial success" is a market substitute, that use is not made fair because it increases the market for the original work. Campbell, 510 U.S. at 591 n. 21, 114 S.Ct. 1164.

    117

    [11] Just as secondary users may not exploit markets that original copyright owners would "in general develop or license others to develop" even if those owners had not actually done so, copyright owners may not preempt exploitation of transformative markets, which they would not "in general develop or license others to develop," by actually developing or licensing others to develop those markets. Thus, by developing or licensing a market for parody, news reporting, educational or other transformative uses of its own creative work, a copyright owner plainly cannot prevent others from entering those fair use markets. See 4 Nimmer § 13.05[A][4], at 13-181-13-182 (recognizing "danger of circularity" where original copyright owner redefines "potential market" by developing or licensing others to develop that market); Texaco, 60 F.3d at 930 ("Only an impact on potential licensing revenues for traditional, reasonable, or likely to be developed markets" is relevant to fourth factor.).

    118

    [12] For any reader of this opinion still possessed by post-Seinfeld "cravings," the answers to the trivia questions posed supra, at 3-4 & n. 2, are: 1-c, 11-"Junior Mints," 12-a; matching: 1-f, 2-c, 3-i, 4-d, 5-a, 6-h, 7-e, 8-g, 9-j, 10-b.

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