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Winter v. DC Comics

Supreme Court of California
69 P.3d 473 (2003)


Facts

Johnny and Edgar Winter (the Winter brothers) (plaintiffs) are well-known musicians. The brothers have long white hair and albino features, and Johnny Winter often wears a tall black top hat. DC Comics (defendant) published a series of comic books which included two brothers, Johnny and Edgar Autumn. The Autumn brothers are depicted with pale faces and long white hair, with one wearing a stovepipe hat. One volume in which the characters appear is titled Autumns of Our Discontent. The Winter brothers sued DC Comics for misappropriation of their likenesses in violation of the California Civil Code. The trial court granted summary judgment for DC Comics. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that there are genuine issues of fact as to whether the comic books are protected under the First Amendment. This court granted DC Comics’ petition for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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