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Heim v. Universal Pictures Co.

154 F.2d 480 (1946)

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Heim v. Universal Pictures Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

154 F.2d 480 (1946)

Facts

Emery Heim (plaintiff), a Hungarian citizen and US resident since 1939, wrote a song in Hungary between 1934 and 1935 and assigned his rights in the song to a Hungarian publisher, which published the song in Hungary in 1935. The publisher secured a statutory US copyright on the song in 1936, pursuant to the Copyright Act of 1909, and published the song in the US bearing notice of copyright with 1936 as the copyright date, even though the original publication in Hungary was in 1935. Universal Pictures Company (Universal) (defendant) produced a motion picture that contained a song with a portion similar to Heim’s song. Heim filed suit against Universal in district court, alleging copyright infringement. Universal argued that, because the copyright notice on the song did not have the correct original publication date, the US copyright was invalid. The district court held in Universal’s favor, finding that Heim’s copyright was invalid not because of the incorrect original publication date on the copyright notice but because the portion of Heim’s song that was allegedly infringed was based on a work by Anton Dvorak within the public domain and thus lacked originality. Heim appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Frank, J.)

Concurrence (Clark, J.)

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