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Milton H. Greene Archives, Inc. v. BPI Communications, Inc.
United States District Court for the Central District of California
378 F. Supp. 2d 1189 (2005)
Milton Greene took seven photographs of Marilyn Monroe between 1956 and 1957. Copyright certificates of registration for the seven photographs were obtained in 1994 and 2003 by Joshua Greene, Milton Greene’s son, and assigned to the Milton H. Green Archives, Inc. (MGA) (plaintiff). In the 1950s, Milton had consented to the publication of the seven photographs on three occasions: (1) to publicize motion pictures; (2) to print in campaign books provided to the press and to theatres; and (3) for reproduction in newspapers and magazines. On the bottom of one of the seven photographs used in a theatre’s campaign book, it stated that the photograph was licensed to the theatre only for the theatre’s exhibition of the movie. None of the photographs were published with notice of copyright in Milton’s name. After BPI Communications, Inc. (BPI) (defendant) published Milton’s seven photographs in its book, Blonde Heat, MGA sued for copyright infringement. BPI moved for summary judgment, arguing that (1) the copyright registrations were not prima facie evidence of the copyright’s validity because the copyrights were registered more than five years after the first publication of the photographs; and (2) the photographs were not copyrightable because they had been subject to general publication without notice of copyright. MGA countered, arguing the photographs had only received a limited publication and were therefore still copyrightable.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Taylor, J.)
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