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Copyright Law: Decisions

Where to find decisoins by court and agency adjudications

Copyright Royalty Board--The Copyright Royalty Board is the institutional entity in the Library of Congress that will house the Copyright Royalty Judges, appointed pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 801(a), and their staff. (Taken from the Library of Congress webpage). The Copyright Royalty Board is a U.S. system of three Copyright Royalty Judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses and make determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the United States Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.

Legal Opinions and Orders of the Register regarding proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board.

Copyright Cases 1800-1979

Selected Historic Cases of Note 1800-1979 Copyright Decisions at Standford Law School.

Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Co., 188 U.S. 239 (1903) The alleged infringements in this case consisted of copying in reduced form three chromolithographs prepared by employees of the plaintiffs.


F. W. Woolworth Co. v. Contemporary Arts, Inc., 344 U.S. 228 (1952)
The court ruled that a rule of liability which merely takes away the profits from a copyright infringement would offer little discouragement to infringers and will fall short of an effective sanction for enforcement of the copyright policy.

International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918)
The Court was asked if International News Service's admitted course of conduct in appropriating for commercial use matter taken from bulletins or early editions of Associated Press publications constitutes unfair competition in trade. The Supreme Court held that INS's conduct was a common-law misappropriation of AP's property.

Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201 (1954)
The controversy in this case centered around the fact that although the items at issue were copyrighted as "works of art," they were intended for use and used commercially. The court held that "works of art" and "reproductions of works of art" were intended by Congress to include the authority to copyright such items.

Twentieth Century Music Corp. V. Aiken, 422 U.S. 151 (1975)
Twentieth Century's copyrighted songs were received on the radio in Aiken's food shop from a local broadcasting station, which was licensed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to perform the songs, but Aiken had no such license. Twentieth Century then sued Aiken for copyright infringement. The Supreme Court held that Aiken did not infringe upon Twentieth Century's exclusive right, under the Copyright Act, "[t]o perform the copyrighted work publicly for profit," since the radio reception did not constitute a "performance" of the copyrighted songs.

Copyright Cases 1980-Present

Selected Historic Cases of Note 1980-Present Copyright Decisions at Stanford Law School.

Perfect 10 v. Google, Inc., No. CV 04-9484, United States District Court Central District of California (2006). Google's creation and public display of "thumbnails" likely do directly infringe P10's copyrights as part of a preliminary injunction decision.

Field v. Google, Inc., No. CV-S-04-0412-RCJ-LRL, United States District Court District of Nevada (2006). Google did not infringe on Field's copyright by indexing and caching his online story. Website owners can use meta tags <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOARCHIVE"> or robots.txt files to keep a search engine for indexing a particular page. Also Google's use of the materials in their database was fair use.

Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Limited, Dorling Kindersley Publishing, and RR Donnelley & Sons Company, No. 05-2514-cv, United States Court of Appeals (2nd Cir.), 2006. Copyrighted images used in book were fair use under 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp.(9th Cir. 2003)
The plaintiff, a professional photographer, placed some of his images on his Web site, as well as on other web sites with which he had a license agreement. Arriba Soft operated an Internet search engine that displayed results in the form of small pictures ("thumbnails"). When Kelly discovered that his photographs were part of Arriba's search engine database, he brought a claim against Arriba for copyright infringement.

Recent Cases

This feed provides very recent copyright case opinion summaries for selected cases. Other information such as docket, legislation, regulation can also be found through this feed. This RSS feed originates from the "Copyright Case Opinion Summaries" on the Stanford University Copyright and Fair use webpage.

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Copyright Law Reporters

Case Law in general via Digests

This guide is designed to familiarize you with the digest system. The first tab "How to Use the Digest" will introduce you to the digests. Once you have an idea of how the digests work you can begin exploring the different types of digests available and where they fit in legal publishing. If you still have questions, the "Useful Links and Contacts" tab will point you towards more guidance.

Case Law in General via Digests

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