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Kaplan v. Stock Market Photo Agency, Inc.
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
133 F. Supp. 2d 317 (2001)
In 1988 photographer Peter B. Kaplan (plaintiff) created and copyrighted a photograph depicting a businessman wearing a suit standing on the ledge of a tall building overlooking a busy street, taken from the vantage point of the businessman. In 1994 Bruno Benvenuto (defendant), a photographer who worked with Stock Market Photo Agency, Inc. (Stock Market) (defendant), took a similar photograph for an advertisement. Both photographs conveyed the idea that the businessman in each photograph was contemplating suicide because of his work environment. Kaplan filed a lawsuit in federal district court against Benvenuto and Stock Market, alleging that Benvenuto and Stock Market had infringed Kaplan’s copyright on the 1988 photograph. Benvenuto and Stock Market filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that the idea in Kaplan’s photograph was not copyrightable and that the doctrine of scènes à faire, which provided that depictions of standard situations, settings, and characters are not copyrightable, applied.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Schwartz, J.)
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