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Milne v. Stephen Slesinger, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
430 F.3d 1036 (2005)
Alexander Alan Milne wrote a series of children’s books in the 1920s featuring the character Winnie the Pooh. In 1930 Milne licensed rights in the books to Stephen Slesinger, Inc. (SSI) (defendant). Alexander died, and the ownership interest in the copyright eventually ended up with his granddaughter, Clare Milne (plaintiff). SSI licensed its rights in the books to Disney. In 1983 Disney, SSI, and Milne renegotiated the grant of rights in the books. The result of the negotiations was Disney’s payment of significantly more money to Milne for use of the copyright. In 1998 Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA). The act added 20 years to existing copyright terms and allowed for the renegotiation of license grants made before 1978. After the passage of the CTEA, Milne notified SSI that she was terminating the agreement originally made in 1930. SSI declined to renegotiate. Milne sued SSI in federal district court. The district court ruled in favor of SSI, finding that the 1983 agreement supplanted the 1930 agreement and therefore was not renegotiable under the CTEA. Milne appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Callahan, J.)
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