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Cavalier v. Random House, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
297 F.3d 815 (2002)


Wanda and Christopher Cavalier (plaintiffs) wrote children’s stories about a character named Nicky Moonbeam. The stories included a few books of several thousand words and a board book for young children. In one illustration, a star is shown lounging on a cloud during the daytime. In another, a star is being polished by the main character. The board book included a night-light built into the back cover, with a smiling moon surrounded by stars and a power switch to the lower right. The general theme of the stories included traveling through the night sky and speaking with the moon and stars. The Cavaliers submitted the stories and illustrations to Random House, Incorporated (Random House) (defendant), but the submissions were rejected. Random House later published two books, Good Night, Ernie and Good Night, Elmo (the Good Night books). The books involved Ernie and Elmo traveling through the night sky accompanied by the moon. The Good Night books included illustrations of stars lounging on clouds during the day and stars being polished. The Good Night books also included a night-light depicting a smiling moon and a smiling star, with rosy cheeks, surrounded by stars and a power switch to the lower right. Each book was around 100 words long. The Cavaliers sued Random House, CTW Publishing Company, and the Children's Television Workshop Inc. (defendants) for copyright infringement. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. The Cavaliers appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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