In Hollander v. Steinberg, (10-1140 cv April 5, 2011), the Second Circuit applied the fair use doctrine, 17 USC 107 to filings in judicial proceedings. An author claimed that his essays were unpublished and that his adversary filing them in their entirety in a judicial proceeding was copyright infringement.
The decision is a "Summary Order" which under Second Circuit rules is not supposed to have any precedential value, but which may now be cited under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 and the Second Circuit's Local Rule 32.1.1.
A "Summary Order" is proper when the panel believes that a decison should have "no jurisprudential effect". Issuance of summary orders is controversial, since our system of case law is based on precedent, not on the subjective belief of judges that their opinions ought to be ignored.
From the New York City Bar, full 1998 report criticizing a prior rule barring even citations to unpublished opinions that led to the currrent rule which permits parties to at least cite Summary Orders here:
The Federal Courts Committee believes that this complete prohibition on the citation of summary orders does not serve the interests of justice or judicial economy. The pervasive use of summary orders has created a vast body of unpublished decisions which are often pertinent to issues arising before the Court, but which cannot be brought to the Court's attention under the current rule. The Committee is aware of cases where the Court has previously ruled by summary order on the precise contention being made in a pending case, on indistinguishable facts, and of other cases where a summary order may be the only authority on point.
Of particular note in Hollander is that a copyright owner's market for a work would not be destroyed by publication of the work on the court's PACER system because retrieving it from PACER is cumbersome.
Finally, the fourth factor, “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work,” 17 U.S.C. § 107(4), clearly favors Steinberg. With this factor, “[t]he focus . . . is on whether defendants are offering a market substitute for the original.” NXIVM Corp. v. Ross Inst., 364 F.3d 471, 481 (2d Cir. 2004). “[O]ur 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 the market of the original work.” Id. Should Den Hollander offer his essays for sale, it is highly unlikely that potentially interested readers would even be aware of the essays’ presence in a court file, let alone choose to acquire copies by the cumbersome methods of visiting a courthouse to make copies or using PACER. And in any event, Den Hollander has offered no evidence that Steinberg “usurped the market” for the essays by submitting them as exhibits in judicial proceedings.
So we have in Hollander a fair use decision that the Second Circuit has decided should be ignored.
Hollander v Steinberg
More on the fair use doctrine here.
Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here
Friday, April 08, 2011
Second Circuit: Fair Use Doctrine Protects Submission of Entire Copyrighted Work In Judicial Proceeding
Labels: citations to summary orders, copyright infringement, copyright law, fair use doctrine, federal rules of appellate procedure, literary works, pacer, second circuit
Partner in law firm Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP in New York City litigating in federal and state courts and arbitrations. Experienced trial and appellate practitioner. Author: Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters 2018-2019). The New York Law Journal called it "an indispensable guide". Board of Directors of the Fordham Law Alumni Association, former General Counsel & Director Federal Bar Association, FBA Chair of the Circuit VPs, ViP for Second Circuit. Member Board of Governors, National Arts Club. President, Network of Bar Leaders (2013-2014). Attorney advertising disclaimer - prior results do not guarantee success. The statements and opinions voiced here are my own and not of my law firm.