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Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

United States Supreme Court
539 U.S. 23 (2003)


Facts

In 1948, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (Fox) (plaintiff) was assigned the copyright for Crusade in Europe, a television series based on a book of the same name. Fox neglected to renew the copyright on the television series before the series expired in 1977, and the series subsequently entered the public domain. However, the copyright for the Crusade in Europe book was renewed. In 1988, Fox reacquired the television rights to the book, which included the right to license the original Crusade in Europe television series. In 1995, Dastar Corporation (Dastar) (defendant) purchased copies of the original version of the Crusade in Europe television series, repackaged Dastar’s own version, and sold copies of the video to retailers under a new title. Dastar listed itself as the producer and distributer of the videos and made no acknowledgments or references to the original television series or book. In 1998, Fox brought a suit against Dastar, claiming that the sale of Dastar’s videos without attribution to the original series amounted to reverse passing off, which was a violation of § 43(a) of the Lanham Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Fox on the § 43(a) claim, and the court of appeals affirmed the decision. Dastar petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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