Leicester v. Warner Brothers, Corp.

232 F.3d 1212 (2000)

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Leicester v. Warner Brothers, Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
232 F.3d 1212 (2000)

  • Written by Robert Cane, JD

Facts

R&T Development Corporation (R&T) sought to build 801 Tower, an office building. The Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (the agency) required property owners to construct public art in connection with development. R&T commissioned Andrew Leicester (plaintiff) to conduct the artistic development of 801 Tower’s courtyard. The agency required 801 Tower to have a streetwall from the building to the property line to extend the building visually for architectural-design purposes. The agency also required the building, its façade, the streetwall, and the courtyard to share common artistic and architectural elements. Ultimately, Leicester designed the courtyard project, called Zanja Madre, and the project received approval from the agency. Zanja Madre included 12 towers, aside from 801 Tower itself, of varying heights and looks though they all reflected a similar architectural and artistic style. Three of the towers were part of the streetwall. In 1994, R&T granted Warner Brothers, Corporation (Warner Bros.) (defendant) permission to film Batman Forever on the premises of 801 Tower. Four towers and 801 Tower appeared briefly in a few of the motion picture’s scenes. Leicester sued Warner Bros. for copyright infringement. The district court held that Warner Bros. did not commit copyright infringement because § 120(a) of the Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act (AWCPA) exempts all pictorial representations of architectural works from infringement. Leicester appealed, arguing that the towers should be protected as separate pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works from 801 Tower under 17 U.S.C. § 102(a)(5), not as part of an architectural work.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rymer, J.)

Concurrence (Tashima, J.)

Dissent (Fisher, J.)

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