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Effects Associates v. Cohen
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
908 F.2d 555 (1990)
Larry Cohen (defendant) was a film director who contracted with Effects Associates, Inc. (Effects) (plaintiff) to create special effects for a horror film. Effects made and provided the special effects to Cohen, but Cohen was unhappy with the effects’ quality and refused to pay the full contracted price. However, Cohen still used the special effects in his film. Effects sued Cohen in federal district court, arguing that Effects owned the copyrights to the effects and that Cohen was not permitted to use the effects without a written agreement that transferred the rights. Cohen argued that the Copyright Act’s requirement of a written agreement did not apply to him because movie directors were not accustomed to making contracts. The district court dismissed Effects’s claim, holding that the dispute was a contract claim and not an infringement claim. The court of appeals reversed and remanded, holding that a plaintiff may decide to bring either claim. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment for Cohen, holding Cohen had been granted an implied license to use the special effects. Effects appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, J.)
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