Sunday, June 23, 2013

Copyright Law - Fifth Circuit - Did Novelist's Cooperation with DVD Producer Create Implied License?

Copyright Infringement, Declaratory Judgment, Exclusive Copyright License, Evidence, Statute of Frauds, Implied Nonexclusive Copyright License, Jury Instructions, Verdict Forms, Attorneys Fees

Baisden v. I’m Ready Productions, Inc., 693 F.3d 491 (5th Circuit August 31, 2012).  Novelist enters into contract granting exclusive rights to screenplays and limited time for DVD production/distribution for two novels.  After DVD contract expires, parties enter into oral agreement extending DVD production/distribution.   Novelist gets movie deal, sues to end oral agreement, claiming copyright infringement.   Jury trial conducted, jury finds no copyright infringement.  Held: implied nonexclusive license may be proven by totality of the circumstances.  Proper jury instruction on affirmative defense of a license cured a potentially unclear jury verdict form, particularly where counsel did not object.  Here, novelist agreed to activities, participated in distribution of DVDs, bought DVDs to resell and accepted royalty checks.  Full performance and payment of royalties sufficient to remove from statute of frauds 17 U.S.C. §204(a).  Trial court’s refusal to permit novelist to read entire novels to jury or show second two-hour DVD was not reversible error where testimony regarding similarities and differences was permitted and where jury had copies of the novels.  Trial court’s refusal to award either party attorneys fees affirmed.
 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2012-2013 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

No comments: