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Reyher v. Children's Television Workshop

533 F.2d 87 (1976), cert denied 429 U.S. 980

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Reyher v. Children’s Television Workshop

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

533 F.2d 87 (1976), cert denied 429 U.S. 980

Facts

Rebecca Reyher and Ruth Gannett (plaintiffs) were the author and illustrator, respectively, of a copyrighted children’s book entitled My Mother Is The Most Beautiful Woman In The World. Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) (defendant) was the producer of the children’s television program known as Sesame Street and the publisher of Sesame Street Magazine. Reyher and Gannett filed suit for infringement after CTW published an illustrated story entitled “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World” and produced and televised a television skit entitled “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World,” both of which Reyher and Gannett claimed were copied from their book without their knowledge or consent. During trial, Reyher testified that her book was inspired by a story told to her as a child in Russian by her Russian mother. Meanwhile, the author of the allegedly infringing script and head writer of Sesame Street testified that he recalled the theme used in his script from a story told to his little sister as a child. The artist who sketched the allegedly infringing illustration of the script for Sesame Street Magazine testified that he too remembered the story from a book read during his childhood in Europe and, further, that he had never seen Gannett’s illustrations before trial. The trial judge dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint on the ground that there was no substantial similarity between the two works as to copyrightable matter. Reyher and Gannett appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Meskill, J.)

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