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Boosey & Hawkes Music Publisher, Ltd. v. The Walt Disney Company

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
145 F.3d 481 (2d Cir. 1998)


In 1939, The Walt Disney Company (Disney) (defendant) executed a copyright licensing agreement (the agreement) with Igor Stravinsky to use the composition for Stravinsky’s song The Right of Spring (the song) in Disney’s new animated film, Fantasia. The agreement stated that Disney could record the song, in any manner or form, in one motion picture. The agreement reserved any non-specified rights to Stravinsky. Fantasia was initially released in movie theaters, but as technology progressed, it was eventually played on television and released on home-video formats, including VHS and laser disc. In 1993, Boosey & Hawkes Music Publisher, Ltd. (Boosey) (plaintiff) was the assignee for Stravinsky’s copyright interests in the song. Boosey sued Disney for copyright infringement. Boosey alleged that Disney’s use of the song in home-video formats of Fantasia exceeded the scope of the agreement, and infringed Boosey’s copyright interest in the song. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Boosey, finding that Disney’s use of the song in home-video versions of Fantasia was not authorized by the license. Disney appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Leval, J.)

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