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02F copyright notice: placement


About This Page

This page contains the following subsections:

02F.1 — copyright notice: foreign edition (go there)
02F.2 — copyright notice: aftermarket removal (go there)

Where to Look in the Law

1909 Act: §19
1947 Act: §20
1976 Act: §§401(a) and (c), 402(c)

CFR: § 201.20 Methods of affixation and positions of the copyright notice on various types of works;
§ 211.6 Methods of affixation and placement of mask work notice.

Copyright Office Publications for Laymen

Circular 3 “Copyright Notice”
Circular 96 “Methods of Affixation and Positions of the Copyright Notice on Various Types of Works”
“The notice should be permanently legible to an ordinary user of the work under normal conditions of use and should not be concealed from view upon reasonable examination.”  (Information Circular 3)

What the Courts Ruled

 

Freeman vs The Trade Register

C.C.,W.D.Wash.N.D. (10-18-1909) ¤ 173 F. 419.

The cover of an issue of Pacific Fisherman bore the title “Pacific Fisherman annual” although an inner page gave the correct title.  This page, pg. 19, was among the cut pages submitted for deposit.  Page 19 was also the first page of “ordinary reading matter” after nothing but ads.  Copyright notice was on pg. 51, which the defendant did not examine.  The suit failed.


 

United Thrift Plan, Inc., vs National Thrift Plan, Inc.

D.C.,E.D.N.Y. (8-14-1929) ¤ 34 F.2d 300.

A booklet had its copyright notice on the last page.  This was deemed insufficient.  (No other editions were published.)

“It is thus apparent that notice was not given by the plaintiff in the manner prescribed by the statute.”  The Court considered omission remedies, but too many copies were issued and no effort had been made to correct them.


 

Deward & Rich vs Bristol Savings & Loan Corporation

C.C.A.Va. (6-10-1941) ¤ 120 F.2d 537.

Penarts Advertising copyrighted “Advertising Manual for Loan Advertising, series of Newspaper Advertisements, volume A” on October 22, 1931.  This was a book.  Bradley Advertising Company, Inc. became owner of the work and on December 19, 1938, merged with Deward & Rich.  On March 14, 1937, Bristol Savings contracted to use the ads.  After the one-year contract ended, Bristol continued using the ads, insisting that it could do so without a license because the ads were not under copyright.  The Court found that there were no notices on the individual leaves in the “book,” and as these leaves were separately published, the work had been dedication to public.


 

Booth vs Haggard et al

C.A. Iowa (10-17-1950) ¤ 184 F.2d 470.

The title page of the disputed work had on it, “1948-49 Kossuth County TAM Service”.  There was no notice on that page nor on page immediately following.  However, page 3 has on it, “Copyright 1948, R.C. Booth Enterprises, Harlan, Iowa.”  The plaintiff said on behalf of his work that page 3 is the title page.  The Court affirmed.


 

Friedman vs Grolier Enterprises, Inc.

USDC SDNY (6-30-1973) ¤ 179 USPQ 476

“Since a deck of playing cards is a single commercial unit, it is sufficient that copyright notice be placed only on ace of spades.”  (The case involved a book about a notation system to be used in bridge.)


 

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation [and ten other movie production companies] vs Thomas W. Dunnahoo, dba Thunderbird Films

USCA 9th Cir. (2-2-1981) ¤ 637 F.2d 1338, 209 USPQ 193

Tom Dunnahoo’s company Thunderbird Films sold its reproductions of films believed to be in the public domain.  Buyers would order 16mm and Super 8 reproductions.
(This was before homevideo became dominant.)

“As Dunnahoo acknowledges, the notice on [Star Trek episode Let That Be Your Last] Battlefield is on a continuous strip of celluloid at the end of the print.  He argues, however, that the notice is defective as a tag because there is a blank portion of the continuous strip between the final credits and the notice.  This contention does not have merit.  Defective tags share the characteristics of being non-integral parts of a print that are not intended to remain with the work after it leaves the copyright proprietor’s control.... The distributor placed the notice in a proper location and there is no indication that it was intended that the notice be removed from the rest of the strip at any time.... Battlefield is validly copyrighted.”

Dunnahoo was already under a Judgment Pursuant to Stipulation which enjoined him from copyright infringements beyond those he committed up to 1972, so his conviction in this case (which involved three films) resulted in his having to pay damages of $40,000 to the studios with which he entered his decree.

(The same trial found Dunnahoo guilty of infringing two additional movies, on grounds different than the aspect discussed here.  One of these is summarized under Research into copyright status.)

illustration: listing in a Thunderbird catalog for Let That Be Your Last Battlefield and two other Star Trek episodes.


 

Case Summarized in Another Section

Paramount Pictures Corp. vs John and Dorothy Hampton (launch this) had defendants believing that they could show their own copy of a Paramount movie in a theater without Paramount’s permission, even though a copyright notice was on the film leader.

Other Information

 

The Compendium of Copyright Office Practices is an internal document used by the Copyright Office to guide Office employees in their work.  The 1970 edition states:

“The law does not specify where a notice should be placed on a motion picture film, but the Office will recommend that the notice appear on or near the title frame.

“Registration will be made if the notice appears either in the opening frames containing the title and credits or at the end of the film.

“Registration will be refused if the notice appears only on one of the reels in the middle of the film.”  (pg. 2-48, as 2.14.2, II b)


From the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 37, § 201.20 Methods of affixation and positions of the copyright notice on various types of works:

“(2) The provisions of this section are applicable to copies publicly distributed on or after December 1, 1981. This section does not establish any rules concerning the form of the notice or the legal sufficiency of particular notices, except with respect to methods of affixation and positions of notice. The adequacy or legal sufficiency of a copyright notice is determined by the law in effect at the time of first publication of the work. [...]

“(h) Motion pictures and other audiovisual works. (1) The following constitute examples of acceptable methods of affixation and positions of the copyright notice on motion pictures and other audiovisual works: A notice that is embodied in the copies by a photomechanical or electronic process, in such a position that it ordinarily would appear whenever the work is performed in its entirety, and that is located:

“(i) With or near the title;
“(ii) With the cast, credits, and similar information;
“(iii) At or immediately following the beginning of the work; or
“(iv) At or immediately preceding the end of the work.

“(2) In the case of an untitled motion picture or other audiovisual work whose duration is sixty seconds or less, in addition to any of the locations listed in paragraph (h)(1) of this section, a notice that is embodied in the copies by a photomechanical or electronic process, in such a position that it ordinarily would appear to the projectionist or broadcaster when preparing the work for performance, is acceptable if it is located on the leader of the film or tape immediately preceding the beginning of the work.

“(3) In the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work that is distributed to the public for private use, the notice may be affixed, in addition to the locations specified in paragraph (h)(1) of this section, on the housing or container, if it is a permanent receptacle for the work.”


 

02F.1 copyright notice: foreign edition

Where to Look in the Law

1909 Act: §§8, 21, 22, 31
1947 Act: §§9, 22, 23, 107
1976 Act: §§104(b), 104A, 304, 902(a)(1)(A), 914, 1311

What the Supreme Court Ruled

 

United Dictionary Co. vs G & C Merriam Co.

208 U.S. 260 (2-3-1908)

G & C Merriam Co. (of Massachusetts) created, published and copyrighted Webster’s High School Dictionary, a book.  Copyrights were taken out in England and the U.S. at the same time.  The U.S. edition contained “statutory notice of copyright” but the edition sold in England (retitled by the English publisher as Webster’s Brief International Dictionary) omitted notice of the American copyright.  United Dictionary (of Illinois) obtained “the English book with the intent to reprint it, and was about to publish it when restrained.”  The Supreme Court examined: “The question is whether the omission of notice of the American copyright from the English publication, with the assent of [Merriam], destroyed its rights; or, in other words, whether the requirement of the [copyright] act ... that notice shall be inserted ‘in the several copies of every edition published,’ extends to publications abroad.”  The Court answered, “we are satisfied that the statute does not require notice of the American copyright on books published abroad and sold only for use there”.


 

Case Summarized in Another Section

Twin Books Corporation vs The Walt Disney Company, Buena Vista Home Video, Inc., and Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. (launch this) ruled on Bambi, which was first published in Germany in 1923 without a copyright notice, but not registered for American copyright in 1927, with itsfirst publication with copyright notice occurring in 1926; the parties of the lawsuit disputed whether copyright renewal based on the 1926 was valid.

 


 

02F.2 copyright notice: aftermarket removal

Where to Look in the Law

1909 Act: §29
1947 Act: §105
1976 Act: §405(c)

“REMOVAL OF NOTICE.—Protection under this title is not affected by the removal, destruction, or obliteration of the notice, without the authorization of the copyright owner, from any publicly distributed copies or phonorecords.”  (1976 Act, §405(c))

Cases Summarized in Other Sections

P. Kaufman, Inc. vs Rex Curtain Corp., et al (launch this) involved copyright notice on a sticker atop fabric.

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation [and ten other movie production companies] vs Thomas W. Dunnahoo, dba Thunderbird Films concerns the unauthorized copying and marketing of a film by a company which wrongly assumed the film was not properly copyrighted because of a copy without notice which had been made by an intermediary party. (launch this)

 

 

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© 2007 David P. Hayes