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White v. Kimmell
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
193 F.2d 744 (1952)
Around 1930, Stewart Edward White (Stewart) authored a manuscript related to spiritual matters. In 1933, Stewart made several stenciled copies of the manuscript and sent them out to friends, and to strangers who requested copies, without limiting or restricting the individuals’ use of the copies. Stewart also sent a copy to Margaret Oettinger, a woman he did not know, who had requested a copy. Stewart gave Oettinger permission to make and sell additional copies of the manuscript for Oettinger’s friends and strangers without any limitations or restrictions. In 1944, Stewart ultimately sold exclusive rights in the manuscript to Susan Kimmell (defendant). Subsequently, Stewart’s brother (White) (plaintiff) sought a declaratory judgment that the manuscript was within the public domain. White asserted that Stewart’s unlimited and unrestricted reproduction and authorization of publication by Oettinger served as an abandonment of the copyright protection on the manuscript. The district court held that the reproductions and distributions by Stewart and Oettinger were only limited publications rather than distributions to the public and therefore that Stewart had not abandoned copyright protection and that the manuscript was not within the public domain. White appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Healy, J.)
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