Judicial Opinions, Statutes and Government Rules-Regulations are not Copyright Protected in United state of America [USA]

Wheaton vs Peter, 33 U.S, 991, 668 [1834] was the first copyright case in the United States till held good law and continuing as quoted in the recent decisions.

Case Title Citation Year Vote Classification Subject Matter Opinions Statute Interpreted Summary of Opinions
Wheaton v. Peters 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591 1834 5 – 2 Substantive Copyrightability/Common law Copyright/Formalities Majority:
McLean
Dissent:
Thompson, Baldwin
There is no such thing as common law copyright and one must observe the formalities to secure a copyright.
Backus v. Gould 48 U.S. (7 How.) 798 1849 Substantive Majority:
McLean(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1831
Stephens v. Cady 55 U.S.(14 How.) 528 1852 9 – 0 Majority:
Nelson(unanimous)
Stevens v. Gladding 58 U.S.447 1854 Majority:
Curtis(unanimous)
Little v. Hall 59 U.S.(18 How.) 165 1856 Majority:
McLean(unanimous)
Paige v. Banks 80 U.S.(13 Wall.) 608 1872 Majority:
Davis(unanimous)
Perris v. Hexamer 99 U.S.674 1879 Majority:
Waite
 
Trade-Mark Cases 100 U.S.82 1879 9 – 0 Non-Copyright Constitutional basis for Trademark regulation Majority:
Miller(unanimous)
Copyright Clause does not give Congress the power to regulate trademarks
Baker v. Selden 101 U.S.99 1879 9 – 0 Substantive Idea/Expression Dichotomy Majority:
Bradley(unanimous)
Idea-expression divide; differences between copyright & patent law
Merrell v. Tice 104 U.S.557 1881 Majority:
Bradley
Because statutory procedures exist for producing evidence of copyright formality observance, evidence of at least such veracity is required to prove copyright claims.
Schreiber v. Sharpless 110 U.S.76 1884 Majority:
Waite
Charges of copyright infringement do not survive the death of the accused and may not be transferred to the executors of their will.
Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony 111 U.S.53 1884 9 – 0 Substantive Copyrightability of photography Majority:
Miller(unanimous)
Extended copyright protection to photography.
Thornton v. Schreiber 124 U.S.612 1888 Majority:
Miller
Banks v. Manchester 128 U.S.244 1888 9 – 0 Substantive Copyrightability of laws Majority:
Blatchford(unanimous)
No copyright in state Supreme Court opinions.
Callaghan v. Myers 128 U.S.617 1888 Majority:
Blatchford(unanimous)
Arrangements of public domain records can represent copyrightable intellectual effort.
Thompson v. Hubbard 131 U.S.123 1889 Majority:
Blatchford(unanimous)
Higgins v. Keuffel 140 U.S.428 1891 Majority:
Field(unanimous)
A label describing the contents of a container is not subject to copyright.
Belford v. Scribner 144 U.S.488 1892 Majority:
Blatchford
Webster v. Daly 163 U.S.155 1896 Majority:
Fuller(unanimous)
Press Pub Co v. Monroe 164 U.S.105 1896 Majority:
Gray(unanimous)
Holmes v. Hurst 174 U.S.82 1899 Majority:
Brown(unanimous)
Brady v. Daly 175 U.S.148 1899 Peckham(unanimous)
Bolles v. Outing Co. 175 U.S.262 1899 Majority:
Brown (White) (unanimous)
Copies already distributed are out of scope of copyright infringement damage lawsuits.
Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing Company 188 U.S.239 1903 7 – 2 Substantive Copyrightability of commercial art Majority:
Holmes
Dissent:
Harlan(McKenna)
Copyright protection of illustrations made for advertisements
Mifflin v. R. H. White Company 190 U.S.260 1903 Majority:
Brown(unanimous)
Mifflin v. Dutton 190 U.S.265 1903 Majority:
Brown(unanimous)
McLoughlin v. Raphael Tuck & Sons Co. 191 U.S.267 1903 8 – 0 Majority:
White(unanimous)
Articles of a class made illegal by a statute that existed in the United States before the statute came into effect are still legal.
American Tobacco Co. v. Werckmeister 207 U.S.284 1907 Majority:
Day(unanimous)
Werckmeister v. American Tobacco Co. 207 U.S.375 1907 Majority:
Day(unanimous)
United Dictionary Co. v. G. & C. Merriam Co. 208 U.S.260 1908 9 – 0 Substantive Formalities Majority:
Holmes(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1870, amendment in 1874 The requirement that notice reside in each copy of every edition does not extend to works published and sold abroad only.
White-Smith Music Publishing Co. v. Apollo Co. 209 U.S. 1 1908 9 – 0 Substantive Public performance right in music Majority:
Day(unanimous)
Concurrence:Holmes
Reproduction of the sounds of musical instruments playing music for which copyright granted not a violation of the copyright.
Dun v. Lumbermen’s Credit Ass’n 209 U.S.20 1908 Majority:
Moody(unanimous)
The existence of some copyright-infringing information in a rote reference work does not entitle the original author to seek an injunction against the printing the later article when the later article’s contents demonstrate significant original work.
Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus 210 U.S.339 1908 9 – 0 Substantive First-sale doctrine Majority:
Day(unanimous)
No license to use copyrighted material. License cannot extend holder’s rights beyond statute defined by Congress.
Scribner v. Straus 210 U.S.352 1908 Majority:
Day
Globe Newspaper Co. v. Walker 210 U.S.356 1908 Majority:
Day
Bong v. Campbell Art Co. 214 U.S.236 1909 Majority:
McKenna
Caliga v. Inter Ocean Newspaper Co. 215 U.S.182 1909 Majority:
Day
Hills and Co. v. Hoover 220 U.S.329 1911 Majority:
Day
American Lithographic Co. v. Werkmeister 221 U.S.603 1911 Hughes
Kalem Co. v. Harper Bros. 222 U.S.55 1911 9 – 0 Substantive Derivative works and Secondary liability Majority:
Holmes(unanimous)
Ferris v. Frohman 223 U.S.424 1912 9 – 0 Substantive Publication and Public Performance Majority:
Hughes(unanimous)
Henry v. A.B. Dick Co. 224 U.S. 1 1912 Non-Copyright Majority:
Lurton(McKenna, Holmes, Van Devanter)
Dissent:
White(Hughes, Lamar)
Bauer & Cie. v. O’Donnell 229 U.S. 1 1913 5 – 4 Non-Copyright Intersection of patents and first-sale doctrine Majority:
Day
Dissent:
Holmes(McKenna, Lurton, Van Devanter)
Straus v. American Publishers Association 231 U.S.222 1913 Majority:
Day
Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey v. Steinhauser 234 U.S.640 1914 Majority:
Hughes(unanimous)
When someone joins an ecclesiastical order, subject to individual state law, their income from copyright may be dedicated to that order’s common fund as much as any other income or form of property. This does not violate any part of the Constitution if the member may withdraw from the order at any time.
Dejonge and Co. v. Breuker & Kessler Co. 235 U.S.33 1914 Majority:
Holmes
G & C Merriam Co. v. Syndicate Pub. Co. 237 U.S.618 1915 Non-Copyright Majority:
Day
Herbert v. Shanley Co. 242 U.S.591 1917 9 – 0 Substantive Public performance of live music in business establishments Majority:
Holmes(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1909 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 5 – 3 Non-Copyright Hot News Majority:
Pitney
Dissent:
Holmes(McKenna), Brandeis
While the information found in AP news was not copyrightable and subject to publici juris, AP has a quasi-property interest during the production of “hot news”.
L. A. Westermann Co. v. Dispatch Printing Co. 249 U.S.100 1919 Majority:
Van Devanter
Ex parte Wagner 249 U.S.465 1919 Majority:
CLARKE
Meccano, Ltd. v. Wanamaker 253 U.S.136 1920 Majority:
McReynolds
Lumiere v. Mae Edna Wilder, Inc. 261 U.S.174 1923 Majority:
Brandeis
A person or corporation cannot file suits under the Copyright Act in areas in which they do not have an office and do no business.
Fox Film Corporation v. Knowles 261 U.S.326 1923 Majority:
Holmes
Prestonettes, Inc. v. Coty 264 U.S.359 1924
Educational Films Corporation v. Ward 282 U.S.379 1931 Majority:
Stone
Sutherland(Van Devanter, BUTLER)
Buck v. Jewell-LaSalle Realty Co. 283 U.S.191 1931 9 – 0 Substantive Public performance right in radio broadcasts in business establishments Majority:
Brandeis(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1909
Fox Film Corp v. Doyal 286 U.S.123 1932 9 – 0 Substantive State government taxation of copyright royalties Majority:
Hughes(unanimous)
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.
Hurn v. Oursler 289 U.S.238 1933 Majority:
Sutherland
George v. Victor Co. 293 U.S.377 1934
Douglas v. Cunningham 294 U.S.207 1935
Interstate Circuit v. United States 304 U.S.55 1938 Majority:
Stone
Dissent:
O. Roberts(McReynolds, BUTLER)
Washingtonian Pub. Co. v. Pearson 306 U.S.30 1939 6 – 3 Substantive Formalities Majority:
McReynolds
Dissent:
Black (O. Roberts, Reed)
Copyright Act of 1909 The 1909 Act’s deposit requirement did not require immediate deposit, or deposit before infringement occurs, in order to bring a suit for infringement
Gibbs v. Buck 307 U.S.66 1939 Majority:
Reed
Dissent:
Black
Buck v. Gallagher 307 U.S.95 1939 Majority:
Reed
Dissent:
Black
Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corp. 309 U.S.390 1940 8 – 0 Procedural Damages Majority:
Hughes(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1909 In the case of an unauthorized adaptation, court may elect to award only a portion of an infringer’s profits to the plaintiff.
Watson v. Buck 313 U.S.387 1941 Majority:
Black
Marsh v. Buck 313 U.S.406 1941 Majority:
Black
Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons 318 U.S.643 1943 5 – 3 Substantive Renewal terms and assignment Majority:
Frankfurter
Dissent:
Black, Douglas, Murphy
Copyright Act of 1909 The renewal of copyright for the second term is not an opportunity for an author to renegotiate terms made during the first term that extended beyond the first term’s length.
United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. 334 U.S.131 1948 7 – 1 Non-Copyright Antitrust Majority:
Douglas
Dissent:
Frankfurter (in part)
Sherman Antitrust Act Practice of block booking and ownership of theater chains by film studios constituted anti-competitive and monopolistic trade practices.
Commissioner v. Wodehouse 337 U.S.369 1949 Majority:
Burton
Dissent:
Frankfurter(Murphy, Jackson)
F. W. Woolworth Co. v. Contemporary Arts, Inc. 344 U.S.227 1952 7 – 2 Procedural Election of remedies (Statutory Damages) Majority:
Jackson
Dissent:
Black(Frankfurter)
Copyright Act of 1909 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 7 – 2 Substantive Copyrightability of sculpture and Idea/Expression Dichotomy Majority:
Reed
Dissent:
Douglas(Black)
Copyright Act of 1909 Extended copyright protection to functional art.
De Sylva v. Ballentine 351 U.S.570 1956 9 – 0 Substantive Renewal terms and beneficiaries Majority:
Harlan II(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1909 After the death of an author, the widow and children are eligible to renew copyright, equally as a class. Additionally, conditional on state laws, illegitimate children are also eligible for a share of the copyright.
Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Loew’s, Inc. 356 U.S.43 1958 4 – 4 Substantive Fair use in parody per curiam aff’d 4-4 sub. nom., Benny v. Loew’s, 239 F.2d 532 (9th Cir. 1956)
Miller Music Corp. v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc. 362 U.S.373 1960 5 – 4 Substantive Duration Majority:
Douglas
Dissent:
Harlan II(Frankfurter, WHITTAKER, Stewart)
Public Affairs Press v. Rickover 369 U.S.111 1962 per curiam
Concurrence:Douglas
Sears, Roebuck, & Co. v. Stiffel Co. 376 U.S.225 1964 Majority:
Black
Concurrence:Harlan II
Compco Corp. v. Day-Brite Lighting 376 U.S.234 1964
Fortnightly Corp. v. United Artists Television, Inc. 392 U.S.390 1968 5 – 1 Substantive Public performance of broadcast television Majority:
Stewart
Dissent:
Fortas
Receiving a television broadcast (of a licensed work) does not constitute a “performance”
Goldstein v. California 412 U.S.546 1973 5 – 4 Non-Copyright Federal pre-emption of state criminal copyright law Majority:
Burger
Dissent:
Douglas(Brennan, Blackmun), Marshall(Brennan, Blackmun)
California’s state statutes criminalizing record piracy did not violate the Copyright Clause
Teleprompter Corp. v. Columbia Broadcasting 415 U.S.394 1974 6 – 3 Substantive Public performance of broadcast television Majority:
Stewart
Dissent:
Blackmun (in part), Douglas(Burger)
Receiving a television broadcast does not constitute a “performance”
Twentieth Century Music Corp. v. Aiken 422 U.S.151 1975 7 – 2 Substantive Public performance of radio broadcasts in business establishments Majority:
Stewart
Dissent:
Burger(Douglas)
Concurrence:
Blackmun
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 4 – 4 Substantive Fair use in photocopies per curiam aff’d by an equally divided court, 420 U.S. 376, 95 S.Ct. 1344 (1975)
Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co. 433 U.S.562 1977 Majority:
White
Dissent:
Powell(Brennan, Marshall), Stevens
Broadcast Music v. Columbia Broadcasting System 441 U.S. 1 1979 8 – 1 Non-Copyright Antitrust and copyright collective rights organizations Majority:
White
Dissent:
Stevens
Sherman Antitrust Act The issuance by ASCAP and BMI of blanket licenses does not constitute price-fixing per se unlawful under the antitrust laws
Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. 464 U.S.417 1984 5 – 4 Substantive Secondary liability and fair use in home recordings Majority:
Stevens
Dissent:
Blackmun(Marshall, Powell, Rehnquist)
Copyright Act of 1976 The Betamax Case
Mills Music, Inc. v. Snyder 469 U.S.153 1985 5 – 4 Substantive Termination Majority:
Stevens
Dissent:
White(Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun)
Copyright Act of 1976 Assignment of royalties under the Copyright Act
Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises 471 U.S.539 1985 6 – 3 Substantive Fair use in excerpts Majority:
O’Connor
Dissent:
Brennan(White, Marshall)
Copyright Act of 1976
Dowling. v. United States 473 U.S.207 1985 6 – 3 Non-Copyright Criminal law impact of infringement Majority:
Blackmun
Dissent:
Powell(Burger, White)
Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 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 9 – 0 Substantive Work-made-for-hire Majority:
Marshall(unanimous)
Copyright Act of 1976 Works for hire.
Stewart v. Abend 495 U.S.207 1990 6 – 3 Substantive Derivative works Majority:
O’Connor
Dissent:
Stevens(Rehnquist, Scalia)
Concurrence:
White
Copyright Act of 1976 Rights of the successor of a copyright interest
Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co. 499 U.S.340 1991 9 – 0 Substantive Copyrightability of Facts and Idea/Expression Dichotomy Majority:
O’Connor
Concurrence:
Blackmun
Copyright Act of 1976 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.
Prei Inc. v. Columbia Pictures 508 U.S.49 1993 Majority:
Thomas
Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. 510 U.S.517 1994 9 – 0 Procedural Attorneys Fees Majority:
Rehnquist
Concurrence:
Thomas
Copyright Act of 1976 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 9 – 0 Substantive Fair use in Commercial Parody Majority:
Souter
Concurrence:
Kennedy
Copyright Act of 1976 Commercial parody can be fair use.
Lotus Dev. Corp. v. Borland Int’l, Inc. 516 U.S.233 1995 4 – 4 Substantive Copyrightability of software program interfaces per curiam Copyright Act of 1976 Scope of software copyrights.
Quality King Distributors, Inc. v. L’anza Research Int’l, Inc. 523 U.S.135 1998 9 – 0 Substantive Reimportation Majority:
Stevens
Concurrence:
Ginsburg
Copyright Act of 1976 First-sale doctrine applies to reimported goods
Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. 523 U.S.340 1998 9 – 0 Procedural Right to Jury Trial on Statutory Damages Majority:
Thomas
Concurrence:
Scalia
Copyright Act of 1976 Seventh Amendment right to jury trial in a copyright infringement case
New York Times Co. v. Tasini 533 U.S.483 2001 7 – 2 Substantive Collective works Majority:
Ginsburg
Dissent:
Stevens(Breyer)
Copyright Act of 1976 Freelance journalists did not grant electronic republication rights for collective work.
Eldred v. Ashcroft 537 U.S.186 2003 7 – 2 Substantive Term Extension Majority:
Ginsburg
Dissent:
Stevens, Breyer
Copyright Act of 1976
Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 539 U.S.23 2003 8 – 0 Non-Copyright Intersection of TM law with public domain works Majority:
Scalia(unanimous)
Lanham Act Trademark cannot preserve rights to a public domain work.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. 545 U.S.913 2005 9 – 0 Substantive Secondary liability Majority:
Souter(unanimous)
Concurrence:
Ginsburg(Rehnquist, Kennedy), Breyer(Stevens, O’Connor)
Copyright Act of 1976 Distributors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software can be liable for copyright infringement if there are “affirmative steps taken to foster infringement”.
Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp. 550 U.S.437 2007 7 – 1 Non-Copyright Ginsburg
Concurrence:
Alito (Thomas, Breyer) (in all but part)
Dissent:
Stevens
35 U.S.C. § 271(f)(Patent Act)
Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick 559 U.S.154 2010 8 – 0 Procedural Registration Majority:
Thomas
Concurrence:
Ginsburg(Stevens, Breyer)
Copyright Act of 1976 Settlement of copyright infringement claims relating to an electronic database
Omega S.A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp. 562 U.S.40 2010 4 – 4 Substantive First-sale doctrine per curiam Copyright Act of 1976 Affirming 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2008)
Golan v. Holder 565 U.S.302, 132 S. Ct. 873 2012 6 – 2 Substantive Restoration of copyright in public domain works Majority:
Ginsburg
Dissent:
Breyer (Alito)
Copyright Act of 1976
Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 568 U.S.519, 133 S. Ct. 1351 2013 6 – 3 Substantive First-sale doctrine Majority:
Breyer
Dissent:
Ginsburg(Scalia (in part), Kennedy)
Concurrence:
Kagan (Alito)
Copyright Act of 1976 The first-sale doctrine applies to copyrighted works made lawfully overseas.
Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. 572 U.S. ____ 2014 6 – 3 Substantive Laches Majority:
Ginsburg
Dissent:
Breyer(Roberts, Kennedy)
Copyright Act of 1976 The laches defense is not available in copyright infringement cases.
American Broadcasting Cos., Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. 573 U.S. ____ 2014 6 – 3 Substantive Public performance Majority:
Breyer
Dissent:
Scalia(Thomas, Alito)
Copyright Act of 1976
Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. 580 U.S. ___ 2017 6 – 2 Substantive Useful articles Majority:
Thomas
Concurrence:
Ginsburg
Dissent:
Breyer(Kennedy)
Copyright Act of 1976