Ninth Circuit: Heirs of "Pink Panther" coauthor do not retain interest in copyright in the films

In a decision last week, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in a copyright case, holding that a coauthor of a story treatment is not necessarily a coauthor of a motion picture produced based on that treatment, and the factors applied to determine coauthorship led to the conclusion that the coauthor of the treatment was not a coauthor of the motion picture. 

In this case, that meant the heirs of one coauthor of the treatment that formed the basis for the film "The Pink Panther" could not assert an interest in the copyright in the motion picture.  Likewise, renewal of the copyright in the motion picture had no effect on the copyright of the treatment, as its copyright is separate and distinct under the law.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment.

More on Richlin v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc. after the jump.

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First Circuit: Copyright statute of limitations applies to accounting claims between joint authors

In a decision last week, the First Circuit held that a purported assignee of a joint author of a copyrighted work was barred by the Copyright Act's three-year statute of limitations from seeking an accounting of profits, even though the state statute of limitations for seeking such an accounting had not yet run.

The plaintiff had purportedly acquired rights in a copyrighted work, Das Hummel-Buch. from the heirs of a joint author of the work, and brought suit for an accounting of profits on the original work and deriviative works, commonly known as Hummel figurines.  However, the plaintiff could only assert the state law claim if it first established its ownership interest in the copyright.  As a result, because copyright ownership was an essential first determination in the matter at hand, the Copyright Act's three-year statute of limitations applied, barring the claim, even though the applicable state statute of limitations had not expired.

More detail of Cambridge Literary Props., Ltd. v. W. Goebel Porzellanfabrik G.m.b.H. after the jump.

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