Whyte Monkee Productions v. Netflix

Opinion Date: March 27, 2024

This case revolves around a copyright dispute between Whyte Monkee Productions, LLC and Timothy Sepi (Plaintiffs) and Netflix, Inc. and Royal Goode Productions, LLC (Defendants). Plaintiffs sued Defendants for copyright infringement, alleging that Defendants had used clips from eight videos filmed by Mr. Sepi without permission in the documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants, concluding that seven of the videos were works made for hire and thus Mr. Sepi did not own the copyrights. The court also found that the use of the eighth video constituted fair use and did not infringe on Mr. Sepi’s copyright.

On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Plaintiffs waived their argument regarding the first seven videos as they presented a new theory not raised in the lower court. Accordingly, the appellate court upheld the district court’s judgment regarding these videos. However, regarding the eighth video, the appellate court ruled that the district court erred in determining that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on their fair use defense. The court concluded that the first factor of the fair use analysis favored the Plaintiffs instead of the Defendants, and that the Defendants failed to provide any evidence demonstrating the absence of a market impact, which is necessary to apply the fourth fair use factor. Therefore, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s judgment as to the first seven videos, reversed the judgment as to the eighth video, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View “Whyte Monkee Productions v. Netflix” on Justia Law

Comments are closed.