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Cohen, d/b/a Bizarre Music v. Paramount Pictures Corp.

845 F.2d 851 (1988)

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Cohen, d/b/a Bizarre Music v. Paramount Pictures Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

845 F.2d 851 (1988)

Facts

In 1969 Herbert Cohen signed a contract licensing H & J Pictures to use one of his songs in a movie to be shown in theaters and on television. After the movie was made, H & J Pictures assigned its rights to exhibit and distribute the song to Paramount Pictures (defendant). The contract allowed Cohen’s song to be broadcast over airwaves or by cable and transmitted from a broadcaster’s location. The contract reserved to Cohen, as the grantor, all other uses not granted. However, in the 1980s, Paramount Pictures placed the movie with Cohen’s song on the new medium of videocassettes. Videocassettes enabled movies to be played at home rather than being transmitted by a broadcaster or television company as required by the limited license granted by the contract. Videocassette recorders (VCRs) for use in homes had not been invented in 1969. After around 2,725 videocassettes had been sold, Cohen sued Paramount Pictures in federal district court for copyright violation. The court granted summary judgment for Paramount Pictures. Cohen appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hug, J.)

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