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Copyright for Higher Education: US Supreme Court Cases

Basic information about U.S.C. Title 17 Copyright Law particularly as it relates to higher education.

Supreme Court Copyright Cases

List of United States Supreme Court copyright case law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Supreme_Court_copyright_case_law

This is an incomplete list of Supreme Court of the United States cases in the area of copyright law.

Case

Citation

Year

Summary

Wheaton v. Peters

33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591

1834

There is no such thing as common law copyright and one must observe the formalities to secure a copyright.

Trade-Mark Cases

100 U.S. 82

1879

Copyright Clause does not give Congress the power to regulate trademarks

Baker v. Selden

101 U.S. 99

1879

Idea-expression divide; differences between copyright & patent law

Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony

111 U.S. 53

1884

Extended copyright protection to photography.

Banks v. Manchester

128 U.S. 244

1888

No copyright in state Supreme Court opinions.

Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Company

188 U.S. 239

1903

Copyright protection of illustrations made for advertisements

United Dictionary Co. v. G. & C. Merriam Co.

208 U.S. 260

1908

White-Smith Music Publishing Company v. Apollo Company

209 U.S. 1

1908

Reproduction of the sounds of musical instruments playing music for which copyright granted not a violation of the copyright.

Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus

210 U.S. 339

1908

No license to use copyrighted material. License cannot extend holder's rights beyond statute defined by Congress.

Kalem Co. v. Harper Bros.

222 U.S. 55

1911

Ferris v. Frohman

223 U.S. 424

1912

Bauer & Cie. v. O'Donnell

229 U.S. 1

1913

Differences between patent and copyright defined also prohibits a license from extending rights holders' rights beyond statute. Rights of copyright holder regarding “use” of copyrighted works.

Herbert v. Shanley Co.

242 U.S. 591

1917

Hotels & restaurants that perform music must compensate composers, even if the venue is not separately charging patrons to hear the music.

International News Service v. Associated Press

248 U.S. 215

1918

Buck v. Jewell-LaSalle Realty Co.

283 U.S. 191

1931

A hotel operator which provided headphones connected to a centrally controlled radio receiver was guilty of copyright infringement, because "reception of a radio broadcast and its translation into audible sound is not a mere audition of the original program. It is essentially a reproduction." NB: Gene Buck, plaintiff, was president of ASCAP.

Fox Film Corp v. Doyal

286 U.S. 123

1932

States may tax copyright royalties, as they can patent royalties, because even though copyrights & patents are granted by the federal government, they are still private property subject to taxation.

Washingtonian Pub. Co. v. Pearson

306 U.S. 30

1938

The 1909 Act's deposit requirement did not require immediate deposit, or deposit before infringement occurs, in order to bring a suit for infringement

Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp.

309 U.S. 390

1940

In the case of an unauthorized adaptation, court may elect to award only a portion of an infringer's profits to the plaintiff.

Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons

318 U.S. 643

1943

United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.

334 U.S. 131

1948

F. W. Woolworth Co. v. Contemporary Arts, Inc.

344 U.S. 227

1952

Court may grant statutory damages, even when infringer proves its gross profits were less than the statutory award. Judges granted wide latitude when determining legal remedies based on the facts of the case.

Mazer v. Stein

347 U.S. 201

1954

Extended copyright protection to functional art.

De Sylva v. Ballentine

351 U.S. 570

1956

Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Loew's, Inc.

356 U.S. 43

1958

aff'd 4-4 sub. nom., Benny v. Loew's, 239 F.2d 532 (9th Cir. 1956)

Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc.

392 U.S. 390

1968

Receiving a television broadcast (of a licensed work) does not constitute a "performance"

Goldstein v. California

412 U.S. 546

1973

Teleprompter Corp. v. Columbia Broadcasting

415 U.S. 394

1974

Receiving a television broadcast does not constitute a "performance"

Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken

422 U.S. 151

1975

Receiving a radio broadcast of a licensed work does not constitute a "performance". This effectively overruled Buck v. Jewel-LaSalle Realty Co. (1931)

Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States

420 U.S. 376

1976

aff'd by an equally divided court, 420 U.S. 376, 95 S.Ct. 1344 (1975)

Broadcast Music v. Columbia Broadcasting System

441 U.S. 1

1979

Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.

464 U.S. 417

1984

The Betamax Case

Mills Music, Inc. v. Snyder

469 U.S. 153

1985

Assignment of royalties under the Copyright Act

Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises

471 U.S. 539

1985

The interest served by republication of a public figure's account of an event is not sufficient to permit non-transformative Fair use.

Dowling. v. United States

473 U.S. 207

1985

Copyright infringement is not theft, conversion, or fraud; illegally made copies are not stolen goods.

Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid

490 U.S. 730

1989

Works for hire.

Stewart v. Abend

495 U.S. 207

1990

Rights of the successor of a copyright interest

Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co.

499 U.S. 340

1991

Affirmed the need for a minimal amount of creativity before a work is copyrightable. "Sweat of the brow" alone is not sufficient to bestow copyright.

Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc.

510 U.S. 517

1994

Attorney's fees in copyright litigation may be awarded to successful defendants, as well as to successful plaintiffs

Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.

510 U.S. 569

1994

Commercial parody can be fair use.

Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int'l, Inc.

516 U.S. 233

1995

Scope of software copyrights.

Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L'anza Research Int'l, Inc.

523 U.S. 135

1998

First-sale doctrine applies to reimported goods

Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc.

523 U.S. 340

1998

Seventh Amendment right to jury trial in a copyright infringement case

New York Times Co. v. Tasini

533 U.S. 483

2001

Freelance journalists did not grant electronic republication rights for collective work.

Eldred v. Ashcroft

537 U.S. 186

2003

Challenge to Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998; held Congress may retroactively extend the duration of works still under copyright, as long as the extension is limited.

Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

539 U.S. 23

2003

Trademark cannot preserve rights to a public domain work.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.

545 U.S. 913

2005

Distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software can be liable for copyright infringement if there are "affirmative Steps taken to foster infringement".

Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick

559 U.S. 154

2010

Settlement of copyright infringement claims relating to an electronic database

Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp.

562 U.S. ___

2010

aff'g 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2008)

Golan v. Holder

565 U.S. 132 S. Ct. 873

2012

Challenge to Uruguay Round Agreements Act; held Constitution gives broad discretion to Congress to decide how best to promote the "progress of science and the useful arts", including restoring copyright in public domain works.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

568 U.S. 133 S. Ct. 1351

2013

The first-sale doctrine applies to copyrighted works made lawfully overseas.

Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.

572 U.S. ____

2014

The laches defense is not available in copyright infringement cases.

American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. v. Aereo, Inc.

573 U.S. ____

2014

Aereo's subscription service allowed subscribers to view live and time-shifted streams of over-the-air television on Internet-connected devices; the live viewing was deemed to be an infringing "retransmission" within the meaning of the public performance right.

Further research:

Raza Panjwani, "Supreme Court Copyright Index" (last visited May 26, 2014) - A website of Supreme Court copyright jurisprudence, organized by justice

U.S. Supreme Court Copyright Cases