Conrad v. AM Cmty Credit Union,

Docket Number: 13-2899
Judge: Posner
Opinion Date: April 14, 2014

Conrad, the “Banana Lady,” a self‐employed singer and dancer, performs in a giant banana costume. After performing a “singing telegram” at a credit union trade association event, she sued, charging infringements of intellectual property rights. Although Conrad claims that she stated that her performance was not to be recorded, except for “personal use,” photos were posted on websites. The district judge dismissed, finding most of the claims precluded by an earlier Wisconsin state court suit, also dismissed. The judge rejected a claim of copyright infringement, over which federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction, on the merits. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, first questioning Conrad’s copyright on the costume, because similar costumes are a common consumer product. The performance was not copyrightable, not being “fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” 17 U.S.C. 102(a). While she has the exclusive right to create or license reproductions of and derivative works from works that she has validly copyrighted, 17 U.S.C. 106(1), (2), it is unlikely that the photos and videos were derivative works. The Act forbids unauthorized recording of a musical performance, 17 U.S.C. 1101(a), and unauthorized display of copyrighted musical or choreographic work, section 106(5), but she did not cite either provision. The court noted Conrad’s “incessant filing of frivolous lawsuits” and suggested that the lower courts “consider enjoining her from filing further suits until she pays her litigation debts.” View “Conrad v. AM Cmty Credit Union,” on Justia Law