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Alfred Bell & Co. v. Catalda Fine Arts, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
191 F.2d 99 (1951)


Catalda Fine Arts, Inc. (Catalda) (plaintiff) produced mezzotint engravings of paintings no longer covered by copyright. The process to reproduce the paintings by mezzotint engraving was laborious, requiring the painting to be traced by hand onto metal plates and scraped to produce light and shadow. The scraping was then turned into a steel plate that would have the appropriate colors of the painting hand-applied whenever a print was produced. Catalda claimed copyright protection for eight of the mezzotint engravings. Alfred Bell & Company, Ltd. (Alfred Bell) (defendant) used the eight mezzotint engravings to produce color lithographs for sale. Catalda brought suit against Alfred Bell for copyright infringement. The district court found that the mezzotint process involved the individual skill and judgment of the engraver in making the reproductions, and that Alfred Bell thus had infringed upon Catalda’s copyrights. Alfred Bell appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Frank, J.)

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