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Nash v. CBS, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
899 F.2d 1537 (7th Cir. 1990)


Jay Nash (plaintiff) wrote four non-fiction books about the gangster John Dillinger. Dillinger was killed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1934 outside of a theater in Chicago. Nash’s research led him to postulate that Dillinger’s body double had been killed rather than Dillinger, and that Dillinger had secretly relocated to San Diego where he lived incognito to old age. CBS, Inc. (CBS) (defendant) aired an episode of its crime series Simon and Simon entitled “The Dillinger Print.” “The Dillinger Print” incorporated many details and theories from Nash’s books, including Dillinger’s possible resettlement in San Diego. However, “The Dillinger Print” did not directly use any words or sentences from Nash’s books. Nash sued CBS for copyright infringement of Nash’s four books describing his theories on Dillinger’s escape. CBS moved for summary judgment. The district court granted CBS’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Nash’s copyright extended to his presentation and exposition of historical events, but not to the historical events themselves. Nash appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, J.)

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