The photocopying practices of the National Institute of Health were upheld in this decision. The suit charged that the libraries had violated the company’s copyright by duplicating for interlibrary loan articles from journals published by Williams & Wilkins. The case was settled by a split decision of the Supreme Court upholding the appeals court verdict that found for the government.
In this case the court ruled that, “No reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court has, nor can he have, any copyright in the written opinions delivered by the court; and the judges of the court cannot confer on any reporter any such right.” The court also held that, Congress, by the act of 1790, instead of sanctioning an existing perpetual right in an author in his works, created the right secured for a limited time by the provisions of that law.”
Twentieth Century’s copyrighted songs were received on the radio in Aiken’s food shop from a local broadcasting station, which was licensed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers to perform the songs, but Aiken had no such license. Twentieth Century then sued Aiken for copyright infringement. The Supreme Court held that Aiken did not infringe upon Twentieth Century’s exclusive right, under the Copyright Act, “[t]o perform the copyrighted work publicly for profit,” since the radio reception did not constitute a “performance” of the copyrighted songs.
Several creators and producers of copyrighted television programs brought this suit claiming that defendants had infringed their copyrights by intercepting broadcast transmissions of copyrighted material and re-channeling these programs through various community antenna television (CATV) systems to paying subscribers. The Supreme Court held that irrespective of the distance from the broadcasting station, the reception and retransmission of its signal by a CATV system does not constitute a “performance” of a copyrighted work.
The controversy in this case centered around the fact that although the items at issue were copyrighted as “works of art,” they were intended for use and used commercially. The court held that “works of art” and “reproductions of works of art” were intended by Congress to include the authority to copyright such items. That the items, as fitted as lamps or unfitted, may be patentable does not bar their copyright as works of art and that the intended or actual use in industry of an article eligible for copyright does not bar or invalidate its registration. Last, the subsequent registration of a work of art published as an element in a manufactured article is not a misuse of copyright.
The Court was asked if International News Service’s admitted course of conduct in appropriating for commercial use matter taken from bulletins or early editions of Associated Press publications constitutes unfair competition in trade. The Supreme Court held that INS’s conduct was a common-law misappropriation of AP’s property.
The court ruled that a rule of liability which merely takes away the profits from a copyright infringement would offer little discouragement to infringers and will fall short of an effective sanction for enforcement of the copyright policy. The fact that petitioner proved that its gross profit from the infringement was a certain amount does not limit recovery to that amount.
The alleged infringements in this case consisted of copying in reduced form three chromolithographs prepared by employees of the plaintiffs. The Circuit Court directed a verdict for the defendant on the ground that the chromolithographs were not within the protection of the copyright law, which was sustained by the Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court reversed the Circuit Court of Appeals decision. Copyright protection is not limited to non-commercial matter or to works of fine art. In addition, the threshold for originality for copyright protection is low. A pictorial representation of an actual event can be protected.
In this case the author of a pre-existing work agreed to assign the rights in his renewal copyright term to the owner of a derivative work, but died before the commencement of the renewal period. The question presented was whether the owner of the derivative work infringed the rights of the successor owner of the pre-existing work by continued distribution and publication of the derivative work during the renewal term of the pre-existing work. The Court ruled that the distribution and publication of a derivative work during the copyright renewal term of a pre-existing work incorporated into the derivative work infringes the rights of the owner of the pre-existing work where the author of that work agreed to assign the rights in the renewal term to the derivative work’s owner but died before the commencement of the renewal period and the statutory successor does not assign the right to use the pre-existing work to the owner of the derivative work.