LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS IN COPYRIGHT LAW

Authors:

Ipsa, IMS Unison Dehradhun

Khushi Malhotra, JEMTECH Noida

Priyanshu Bhayana, NLU Orissa

Editor: Tanya Kanchan Soni, NLU Raipur


LANDMARK JUDGEMENTS ON COPYRIGHT LAW

Throughout this article, the advent of copyright laws will be scrutinized. The article will primarily pertain to defining the course of Copyright laws through the use of a plethora of landmark judgments inter alia.

ELLEN WRIGHT v. WARNER BOOKS, INC. AND MARGARET WALKER ALEXANDER

Citation – 953 F.2d 731

Judgment delivered on – 21 November 1991

Coram – VAN GRAAFEILAND, MESKILL and Mc LAUGHLIN, Circuit Judges.

The section involved - Section 107 of The Copyright Revision Act of 1976

FACTS- The plaintiff was the widow of the deceased Mr. Wright, whose published and unpublished work like the journal entries, letters of the deceased to Dr. Walker, the essays, etc. were used by the defendant while writing the biography of Mr. Wright. The plaintiff claimed that the use of letters and alleged unpublished journal entries constitutes copyright infringement and that Dr. Walker’s research agreement with Yale University is also violated by the use of journal entries in the biography.[1]

HELD- The court observed that all the four factors of fair use mention in 17 U.S.C § 107 favoured the defendant and granted summary judgment on the copyright claim.

Four factors of fair use as mentioned in the Section are –

1. Purpose and character of the use

2. the nature of the work

3. the amount and substantiality of work used

4. the effect of the use of the work on the original

If there exists fair use of work then the claim for copyright infringement can be set aside. Therefore, the defence of fair use is complete in itself.


ART ROGERS V. JEFF KOONS, SONNABEND GALLERY, INC.

Citation: 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992)

Judgement Delivered: April 2, 1992

Coram: (Circuit Judges) RICHARD J. CARDAMONE, JOHN M. WALKER, LAWRENCE WARREN PIERCE.


FACTS: Professional photographer Art Roger clicked a black and white photograph of a couple holding a line of puppies in their hands. This was used as a picture on the greeting cards and other merchandise goods. An internationally known artist Jeff Koons took that picture from the postcard and wanted to have sculpture sculpted for an art exhibition. Koons gained a huge profit of $367,000 from it. Rogers sued Koons for copyright infringement however, Koons took the defence of Fair use.

HELD: The Court held that both the picture of Roger and the sculpture of Koons had a substantial similarityand a layman could easily point out the similarities between the two. Hence the sculpture was a copy of the picture taken by Roger. Koons plea of Fair use was rejected as he could use a generic source of art to make the same sculpture without copying Roger’s work. However, Koons and Roger reached a confidential and monetary settlement.[2]


PATRICK CARIO V. RICHARD PRINCE Citation: 714 F.3d 694 (2d Cir. 2013)

Judgement Date: April 2013

Coram: B.D. PARKER, PETER HALL, WALLACE[3]


FACTS: Richard Prince- a well-known appropriation artist, transforms the work of others into one of his own with new meanings. In Gagosian gallery, Richard took 41 images from a photography book of the famous photographer Patrick Cariou and appropriated in its own work by giving it a new meaning. Later, Cariou sued Prince as it was not a fair use of his photo and is an infringement of copyrights.

HELD: The Court gave judgment in favor of Cariou as the changes made in the photos of Cariou were not significant to give a new meaning which means fair use.

SIGNIFICANCE: By this case, huge chaos was developed when the decision was in favor of Cariou as the work of Prince with other’s work to give a new meaning was a different thing from the artist’s original work. To develop a new thing from something is different in many ways like an artist’s composition, presentation, color, design, palette, and media which gives the photographer a fair use of artist’s work. It also depends on the opinion of the viewer, as people draw a different conclusion from the same or different pictures.


THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD V. RAMESHWARI PHOTOCOPY SERVICES AND ORS. (DU PHOTOCOPY CASE)

Citation: (2016) 160 DRJ (SN) 678

Judgement Date: 9th of December 2016 by Delhi High Court

Coram: MR JUSTICE PRADEEP NANDRAJOG, MR JUSTICE YOGESH KHANNA


FACTS: Rameshwari photocopy services- the defendant was photocopying some materials from the books published by the plaintiff to form a new study material and course package for the DU students. Aggrieved with this the scholars, masters, and the chancellor of the University of Oxford filed the copyright infringement suit against the defendant.

HELD: The court was of the view that the photocopying of books to prepare study material covering the syllabus of the DU students does not invoke the copyright act as it was done for the PURPOSE OF EDUCATIONAL INSTRUCTIONS.[4]

Since the books were too expensive and were impossible for the student to carry 30 to 40 books to college daily so, to ease the burden and expense, the course package which involves photocopied chapters from various books seems to be affordable to all class of students and helpful in enhancing the knowledge.


RAJ REWAL V. UNION OF INDIA AND ORS

Citation: 2017 SCC Online 7977

Judgement Date: 20 April, 2017

Coram: SANJEEV SACHDEVA


FACTS: The petitioner, in this case, was an architect, bearing international acclaim, and had designed the Hall of Nations, the Hall of Industries and the Nehru Pavilion at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi in the year 1972. However, in 2016, the Indian trade promotion organization sought to have the Hall of Nations demolished to construct an Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre.

Subsequently, the structure was stuck down, resulting in the plaintiff has filed a suit against ITPO and the Union of India contending that the structures designed by the architect were structures of national importance and had been elevated to fall under the Berne Convention.

ISSUES

a) Whether an architect as an author of architectural projects, reserves the right to refrain the owner from demolishing or modifying the property and is further entitled to claim damages, should the demolition have already occurred?

b) Whether laws relating to artistic works or copyrighted works of architecture may be interpreted, without regard to laws relating to the land in contention?

HELD: The High Court of New Delhi differentiated between the contentions of both, the plaintiff and the defendant, based on the former’s being a statutory right, i.e. Section 57(1) of the Copyright Act, and the latter’s being a constitutional right, i.e. Article 300A of the Indian Constitution, respectively.

The court further observed that the Heritage Conservation Committee had set a fixed criterion for a structure to be deemed of heritage, which the structure in contention fails to comply with.

The suit was therefore dismissed because architectural structures cannot be categorized under the aegis of Section 57 of the Copyright Act and made it clear that the plaintiff had no cause of action in the suit.[5]


SAJEEV PILLAI V. VENU KUNNAPALLI AND ANOTHERS

Citation: 2019 SCC Online Ker 5338

Judgement Date: 11 December 2019

Coram: SHIRCYV., J.


FACTS: The plaintiff, in this case, claimed to have worked extensively and researched vastly on the festival of Mamankam, on which the plaintiff had written a script and had sought for it to be made into a movie. The draft of his script was registered under the name of ‘Kinavu/Changatham’, the plaintiff had further entered into a contract with the respondent for the production of the movie, who had alleged fraud on the plaintiff claiming that he was under a wrong belief as to the party he was contracting with.

After having completed two schedules of the movie, the plaintiff was terminated from his service as the director of the movie. The movie was further completed by mutilating and distorting the script of the appellant.[6]

ISSUE: Whether the author of a literary work could claim special rights to claim authorship of his work under Section 57(1) of The Copyright Act 1957?

HELD: The High Court of Kerala upheld the sanctity of Section 57[7] of the Act, which contains provisions regarding an author’s special rights regarding restricting rights of usage by any Third-party and the author’s entitlement to claim damages in case of any mutilation, distortion or any modification. This validated the claims of the appellant and set a benchmark for authorship claims and the prevention of misuse of their intellectual property.

[1] H2O Case Admin, Wright v. Warner Books, Inc. (July 01,2020, 15:10) htts://h2o.law.harvard.edu/cases/5225 [2] LEXIS NEXIS CASE BRIEFS, (01-07-2020, 16:08) https://www.lexisnexis.com/community/casebrief/p/casebrief-rogers-v-koons [3] 2013_Cariou.docx, (02-07-2020, 11:01) https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/tfisher/cx/2013_Cariou.pdf [4] The Chancellor, Masters & Scholars of the University of Oxford & Ors. v. Rameshwari Photocopy Services & Ors. [DU Photocopying Case] (July 01,2020, 15:10) https://spicyip.com/resources-links/du-photocopy-case [5] SCC Online Web Edition, (Tuesday, June 30, 2020) [6] SCC Online Web Edition [7] The Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1957, No. 14, Acts of Parliament, 1957 (India).

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