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Holmes v. Hurst

174 U.S. 82 (1899)

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Holmes v. Hurst

United States Supreme Court

174 U.S. 82 (1899)

Facts

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote a book called The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. Dr. Holmes had agreed with a publisher to have the book published in 12 serial installments in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. After all of the book had been published in this manner, Dr. Holmes followed the statutory process to copyright the book and had it printed in its entirety in a single volume. A number of years later, Hurst (defendant) began printing copies of the book that compiled the 12 magazine installments, exactly as they were originally published, into a single volume. Dr. Holmes’s son, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (plaintiff), as Dr. Holmes’s executor, brought an action seeking an injunction against Hurst for copyright infringement. Holmes Jr. claimed that the serial publication of the book in 12 parts did not amount to a complete publication of the book for purposes of compliance with the copyright law and that Hurst had the right to republish the individual 12 installments, but not to compile them into a single published volume. The circuit court dismissed Holmes Jr.’s complaint, and the court of appeals affirmed the dismissal. Holmes Jr. appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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