Stewart v. Abend/Dissent Stevens

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Stevens

Justice STEVENS, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and Justice SCALIA join, dissenting.

The Constitution authorizes the Congress:

"To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. . . ." U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, Cl. 8.

Section 6 of the Copyright Act of 1909, 35 Stat. 1077, 17 U.S.C. § 7 (1970 ed.) (hereinafter § 7), furthers that purpose; § 24 of that Act, 17 U.S.C. § 24 (1970 ed.) (hereinafter § 24), as construed by the Court in this case, does not. It is therefore appropriate to begin with § 7. [1]

* In a copyright case, as in any other case, the language of the statute provides the starting point. Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid, 490 U.S. 730, 739, 109 S.Ct. 2166, 2172, 104 L.Ed.2d 811 (1989); Mills Music, Inc. v. Snyder, 469 U.S. 153, 164, 105 S.Ct. 638, 645, 83 L.Ed.2d 556 (1985).

"Compilations or abridgments, adaptations, arrangements, dramatizations, translations, or other versions of works in the public domain or of copyrighted works when produced with the consent of the proprietor of the copyright in such works . . . shall be regarded as new works subject to copyright under the provisions of this title; but the publication of any such new works shall not affect the force or validity of any subsisting copyright upon the matter employed or any part thereof, or be construed to imply an exclusive right to such use of the original works, or to secure or extend copyright in such original works."

This statutory provision deals with derivative works-works that include both old material and new material. The plain language of § 7 confers on the entire derivative work-not just the new material contained therein-the status of all other works of authorship, that of "new works subject to copyright under the provisions of this title." Among those rights is that specified in § 3 of the 1909 Act, 17 U.S.C. § 3 (1976 ed.), which applies both to composite and derivative works and states that "the copyright provided by this Act shall protect all the copyrightable component parts of the work copyrighted, and all matter therein in which copyright is already subsisting, but without extending the duration or scope of such copyright." In turn, under § 1, U.S.C. § 1 (1976 ed.), the author or proprietor of the copyright has the right to distribute and publicly perform the copyrighted derivative work. §§ 1(a), 1(d). [2] The statute does not say anything about the duration of the copyright being limited to the underlying work's original term; rather, derivative works made with the consent of the author and derivative works based on matter in the public domain are treated identically. They are both given independent copyright protection. Section 7, read together with § 3, plainly indicates that the copyright on a derivative work extends to both the new material and that "in which copyright is already subsisting." § 3. The author or proprietor of the derivative work therefore has the statutory right to publish and distribute the entire work. [3]

The structure of § 7 confirms this reading. The statute does not merely provide the derivative author with a right to copyright but goes on to set limitations and conditions on that copyright. The statute makes "the consent of the proprietor of the [underlying] copyright" a precondition for copyright of the derivative work, a provision that would make little sense if the copyright provided by § 7 did not derogate in some manner from the underlying author's copyright rights. [4] The statute also directs that the right granted the derivative work proprietor should not "be construed to imply an exclusive right to such use of the original works," suggesting, by negative implication, that it should be read to include a non-exclusive right to use of the original works. The provision that publication "shall not affect the force or validity of any subsisting copyright" also suggests that publication would otherwise have the capacity to affect the force or validity of the original copyright: By publishing the derivative work without satisfying the notice requirements of the Act, the derivative author would dedicate to the public not only his own original contribution, but also that of the original author. Conversely, the limitation that publication does not "secure or extend copyright in such original works" would be unnecessary if the copyrighted derivative work did not include within it some of the material covered by the earlier copyright, or if the term of the derivative copyright did not extend beyond the life of the original copyright. [5] Although the derivative copyright protects only the new material contained within the new work, that limitation is not the product of the limited extent of the copyright-which encompasses both new and old material-but rather of the specific statutory language restricting its effect against third parties. [6]

Any other interpretation would render the provision largely surplusage. The Copyright Act of 1909 elsewhere accords protection to "all the writings of an author," § 4, including dramatic composition, § 5, and long before the Act of 1909, it was recognized that the additions and improvements to existing works of art were subject to copyright as original works of authorship. [7] Congress would hardly have needed to provide for the copyright of derivative works, including the detailed provisions on the limit of that copyright, if it intended only to accord protection to the improvements to an original work of authorship. In my opinion, § 7 was intended to do something more: to give the original author the power to sell the right to make a derivative work that upon creation and copyright would be completely independent of the original work.

The statutory background supports the conclusion that Congress intended the original author to be able to sell the right to make a derivative work that could be distributed for the full term of the derivative work's copyright protection. At the time of the enactment of § 7, copyright in the right to dramatize a nondramatic work was a relatively recent innovation with equivocal support. Until 1870, an author had only the right to prevent the copying or vending of his work in the identical medium. [8] The Act of 1870, which gave the author the "sole liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, completing, copying, executing, finishing, and vending," made a limited start toward further protection, providing that "authors may reserve the right to dramatize or to translate their own works." Ch. 230, § 86, 16 Stat. 212. The identical language was carried over when the statute was revised in 1873. Rev.Stat. § 4952. The Act of 1891 was a landmark. It gave the same rights to the "author" as had the previous statutes, but provided further that "authors or their assigns shall have exclusive right to dramatize and translate any of their works for which copyright shall have been obtained under the laws of the United States." Ch. 565, § 4952, 26 Stat. 1107. The case law was in accord. Although courts were occasionally willing to enjoin abridgments as infringing, in 1853 Justice Grier wrote that a dramatization of the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" would not infringe the author's rights in the book, see Stowe v. Thomas, 23 F.Cas. 201, 208 (No. 13,514) (CC ED Pa.1853), [9] and it was not until after the passage of the 1909 Act that this Court first held that a copy of a literary work in another form than the original could infringe the author's copyright. See Kalem Co. v. Harper Brothers, 222 U.S. 55, 32 S.Ct. 20, 56 L.Ed. 92 (1911). [10]

The drafts of the copyright bill, considered by the Conferences held by the Register of Copyrights and the Librarian of Congress in 1905 and 1906, [11] had three distinctive features with respect to derivative works: They provided a limited period of protection from the creation of derivative works during which a derivative work could only be created with "the consent of the author or his assigns," Brylawski & Goldman D LXV; [12] they distinguished between the copyright term for original works of authorship and for derivative works, according the latter a shorter period of protection; [13] and, finally, they provided that derivative works produced with the consent of the original author would be considered new works entitled to copyright. Together these provisions reveal a more complicated set of theoretical premises than is commonly acknowledged. Although originality of authorship was an essential precondition of copyright, the duration of the copyright term and the extent of copyright protection rested upon the nature of the work as a whole rather than the original expression contributed by the copyright author. Moreover, the consent of the underlying author to the production of a derivative work was to be encouraged and, once given, entitled the derivative work to independence from the work upon which it was based.

The first two provisions were not included in the Copyright Act, which gave authors the right, during the full term of copyright, to create or consent to the creation of derivative works which would then enjoy their own copyright protection. But the third provision which set the conditions upon which an original author would consent and the second author would create a derivative work entitled to protection under the Copyright Act carried forward the view that the derivative copyright extended beyond the original contribution of the derivative author. Throughout the debates on the provision, the drafters of the Copyright Act evinced their understanding that the derivative copyright itself encompassed the whole derivative work. The first draft of § 7, considered by the second Conference in 1905, would have provided copyright as a new work for a derivative work "produced with the consent and authorization of the author of the original," without any restrictions on the effect of that copyright on the copyright in the original work. 2 Brylawski & Goldman, Part D, p. XXXII. By the time of the third Conference in 1906, the Register of Copyrights expressed his concern that that provision would be read too broadly, adding the proviso: "That the copyright thus secured shall not be construed to grant any exclusive right to such use of the original works, except as that may be obtained by agreement with the author or proprietor thereof." 3 id., Part E, p. LI. The implication was that, in the absence of an agreement, the author of the derivative work would have, as a matter of copyright law, a nonexclusive right "to such use of the original works." The final draft presented to Congress at the end of 1906 addressed a parallel problem that the license to use the underlying material might also detract from the rights of the underlying copyright if the derivative author did not adequately protect the material on which the copyright was subsisting. To allay this concern, the Register added the language "no such copyright shall affect the force or validity of any subsisting copyright upon the matter employed or any part thereof." 1 id., Part B, p. 15.

Two significant changes were made during the congressional hearings from 1907 through 1909, but with those exceptions the provision survived intact. First, in response to the objection that the language of § 6, codified at 17 U.S.C. § 7 (1976 ed.), in conjunction with that of § 3, codified at 17 U.S.C. § 3 (1976 ed.), would be read to give the derivative work proprietor "a new term of copyright running on this old matter of his" and, in that way, provide for perpetual copyright, 4 Brylawski & Goldman, Part J, pp. 132-138 (statement of Mr. Porterfeld); see also id., at 428, Congress limited the enforceability of the derivative copyright, adding language that publication of the dramatization would not "secure or extend copyright in such original works." § 6, 35 Stat. 1077. Second, in response to the objection that the Register's draft provision did not address with sufficient precision the possibility that failure of the derivative copyright would allow the underlying work to enter the public domain, Congress substituted the word "publication" for "copyright" in the "force or validity" clause. Congress thus made clear that it was the publication of the derivative work, not the copyright itself, that was not to "affect the force or validity of any subsisting copyright." Ibid. [14]

The legislative history confirms that the copyright in derivative works not only gives the second creative product the monopoly privileges of excluding others from the unconsented use of the new work, but also allows the creator to publish his or her own work product. The authority to produce the derivative work, which includes creative contributions by both the original author and the second artist, is dependent upon the consent of the proprietor of the underlying copyright. But once that consent has been obtained, and a derivative work has been created and copyrighted in accord with that consent, "a right of property spr[ings] into existence," Edmonds v. Stern, 248 F. 897, 898 (CA2 1918), that Congress intended to protect. Publication of the derivative work does not "affect the force or validity" of the underlying copyright except to the extent that it gives effect to the consent of the original proprietor. That owner-and in this case, the owner of a renewal of the original copyright-retains full dominion and control over all other means of exploiting that work of art, including the right to authorize other derivative works. The original copyright may have relatively little value because the creative contribution of the second artist is far more significant than the original contribution, but that just means that the rewards for creativity are being fairly allocated between the two artists whose combined efforts produced the derivative work.

Nothing in § 24 requires a different result. The portion of that section dealing with copyright renewals provides:

"[T]he author of such work, if still living, or the widow, widower, or children of the author, if the author be not living, . . . shall be entitled to a renewal and extension of the copyright in such work for a further term of twenty-eight years when application for such renewal and extension shall have been made to the copyright office and duly registered therein within one year prior to the expiration of the original term of copyright." 17 U.S.C. § 24 (1976 ed.).

That statute limits the renewal rights in a copyright to the specified statutory beneficiaries, "completely dissevering the title, breaking up the continuance . . . and vesting an absolutely new title eo nomine in the persons designated." White-Smith Music Publishing Co. v. Goff, 187 F. 247, 250 (CA1 1911). Since copyright is a creature of statute and since the statute gives the author only a contingent estate, with "the widow, widower, or children" as remaindermen, the author "ha[s] only an expectancy to assign" for the second term. Miller Music Corp. v. Charles N. Daniels, Inc., 362 U.S. 373, 375, 80 S.Ct. 792, 794, 4 L.Ed.2d 804 (1960). The original author may not sell more than he owns. He may not convey the second-term rights to print or copy the underlying work or to create additional derivative works from it. See Gilliam v. American Broadcasting Cos., 538 F.2d 14, 21 (CA2 1976); G. Ricordi & Co. v. Paramount Pictures Inc., 189 F.2d 469 (CA2), cert. denied, 342 U.S. 849, 72 S.Ct. 77, 96 L.Ed. 641 (1951). [15] Nor may the derivative author dedicate the underlying art to the public by failing to renew his copyright. See Filmvideo Releasing Corp. v. Hastings, 668 F.2d 91, 93 (CA2 1981); Russell v. Price, 612 F.2d 1123, 1128 (CA9 1979). [16] Even if the alienation of second-term rights would be in the author's best interest, providing funds when he is most in need, the restriction on sale of the corpus is a necessary consequence of Congress' decision to provide two terms of copyright.

Neither § 24 nor any other provision of the Act, however, expressly or by implication, prevents the author from exercising any of his other statutory rights during the original term of the copyright. The author of the underlying work may contract to sell his work at a bargain price during the original term of the copyright. That agreement would be enforceable even if performance of the contract diminished the value of the copyright to the owner of the renewal interest. Similarly, the original author may create and copyright his own derivative work; the right of an assignee or legatee to receive that work by assignment or bequest should not be limited by the interests of the owners of the renewal copyright in the underlying work. Section 1 of the Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1 (1976 ed.), gives the author the right to dramatize his own work without any apparent restriction. Such use might appear, at the time or in retrospect, to be improvident and a waste of the asset. Whatever harm the proprietor of the renewal copyright might suffer, however, is a consequence of the enjoyment by the author of the rights granted him by Congress.

The result should be no different when the author exercises his right to consent to creation of a derivative work by another. By designating derivative works as "new works" that are subject to copyright and accorded the two terms applicable to original works, Congress evinced its intention that the derivative copyright not lapse upon termination of the original author's interest in the underlying copyright. The continued publication of the derivative work, after the expiration of the original term of the prior work, does not infringe any of the statutory successor's rights in the renewal copyright of the original work. The author's right to sell his derivative rights is exercised when consent is conveyed and completed when the derivative work is copyrighted. At that point, prior to the end of the first term, the right to prevent publication of the derivative work is no longer one of the bundle of rights attaching to the copyright. The further agreement to permit use of the underlying material during the renewal term does not violate § 24 because at the moment consent is given and the derivative work is created and copyrighted, a new right of property comes into existence independent of the original author's copyright estate.

As an ex post matter, it might appear that the original author could have negotiated a better contract for his consent to creation of a derivative work, but Congress in § 24 was not concerned with giving an author a second chance to renegotiate his consent to the production of a derivative work. [17] It provided explicitly that, once consent was given, the derivative work was entitled as a matter of copyright law to treatment as a "new wor[k]." § 7. Ironically, by restricting the author's ability to consent to creation of a derivative work with independent existence, the Court may make it practically impossible for the original author to sell his derivative rights late in the original term and to reap the financial and artistic advantage that comes with the creation of a derivative work. [18] Unless § 24 is to overwhelm § 7, the consent of the original author must be given effect whether or not it intrudes into the renewal term of the original copyright.

A putative author may sell his work to a motion picture company who will have greater use for it, by becoming an employee and making the work "for hire." The 1909 Act gave the employer the right to renew the copyright in such circumstances. [19] In addition, when an author intends that his work be used as part of a joint work, the copyright law gives the joint author common authority to exploit the underlying work and renew the copyright. [20] The Court today holds, however, that the independent entrepreneur, who does not go into the company's employ and who intends to make independent use of his work, does not also have the same right to sell his consent to produce a derivative work that can be distributed and publicly performed during the full term of its copyright protection. That result is perverse and cannot have been what Congress intended. [21]

The critical flaw in the Court's analysis is its implicit endorsement of the Court of Appeals reasoning that:

" 'If Miller Music makes assignment of the full renewal rights in the underlying copyright unenforceable when the author dies before effecting renewal of the copyright, then a fortiori, an assignment of part of the rights in the underlying work, the right to produce a movie version, must also be unenforceable if the author dies before effecting renewal of the underlying copyright.' " Ante, at 215-216.

That reasoning would be valid if the sole basis for the protection of the derivative work were the contractual assignment of copyright, but Woolrich did not just assign the rights to produce a movie version the way an author would assign the publisher rights to copy and vend his work. Rather, he expressed his consent to production of a derivative work under § 7. The possession of a copyright on a properly created derivative work gives the proprietor rights superior to those of a mere licensee. As Judge Friendly concluded, this position is entirely consistent with relevant policy considerations. [22]

In my opinion, a fair analysis of the entire 1909 Act, with special attention to § 7, indicates that the statute embodied the same policy choice that continues to be reflected in the 1976 Act. Section 101 of the Act provides:

"A derivative work prepared under authority of the grant before its termination may continue to be utilized under the terms of the grant after its termination, but this privilege does not extend to the preparation after the termination of other derivative works based upon the copyrighted work covered by the terminated grant." 17 U.S.C.App. § 304(c)(6)(A).


I respectfully dissent.


Notes[edit]

^1  Although the Court of Appeals determined the rights of the parties by looking to the 1909 Act, respondent now argues that the 1976 Act is applicable. At the time petitioners secured their copyright in the film in 1954, and respondent renewed his copyright in the short story in 1969, the Copyright Act of 1909 was in effect. There is no evidence that Congress in the Copyright Act of 1976 intended to abrogate rights created under the previous Act. I therefore take it as evident that while the cause of action under which respondent sues may have been created by the 1976 Act, the respective property rights of the parties are determined by the statutory grant under the 1909 Act. See Roth v. Pritikin, 710 F.2d 934, 938 (CA2), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 961, 104 S.Ct. 394, 78 L.Ed.2d 337 (1983); International Film Exchange, Ltd. v. Corinth Films, Inc., 621 F.Supp. 631 (SDNY 1985); Jaszi, When Works Collide: Derivative Motion Pictures, Underlying Rights, and the Public Interest, 28 UCLA L.Rev. 715, 746-747 (1981) (hereinafter Jaszi). Cf. 1 M. Nimmer & D. Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright § 1.11, p. 1-96 (1989) (hereinafter Nimmer) (no explicit statement of a legislative intent to apply the current Act retroactively).

^2  Section 1 of the 1909 Act, 35 Stat. 1075, provides in pertinent part:

"That any person entitled thereto, upon complying with the provisions of this Act, shall have the exclusive right:
"(a) To print, reprint, publish, copy, and vend the copyrighted work;
. . . . .
"(d) To perform or represent the copyrighted work publicly if it be a drama . . .; and to exhibit, perform, represent, produce, or reproduce it in any manner or by any method whatsoever."

In its response to this dissent, the Court completely ignores the plain language of § 1.

^3  The Court states that this reading of § 7 is "creative," has not been adopted by any Court of Appeals in the history of the 1909 Act, and has not been argued by petitioners. Ante, at 230. Although I am flattered by this comment, I must acknowledge that the credit belongs elsewhere. In their briefs to this Court, petitioners and their amici argue that § 7 created an independent but limited copyright in the entire derivative work entitled to equal treatment with original works under the renewal and duration provisions of § 24. Brief for Petitioners 14-15, 17, 21, 29-30; Brief for Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., et al., as Amici Curiae 11, 13, 15. That was also the central argument of Judge Friendly in his opinion for the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, see Rohauer v. Killiam Shows, Inc., 551 F.2d 484, 487-488, 489-490, 493-494, cert. denied, 431 U.S. 949, 97 S.Ct. 2666, 53 L.Ed.2d 266 (1977), and Judge Thompson dissenting from the panel decision below, see Abend v. MCA, Inc., 863 F.2d 1465, 1484-1487 (CA9 1988). Indeed, Judge Friendly only addressed the equities with great reservation, 551 F.2d, at 493, after "a close reading of the language of what is now § 7." Id., at 489.

^4  The drafters of the 1909 Act were well aware of the difficulty of contacting distant authors who no longer wished to enforce their copyright rights. In § 24, for example, Congress provided that a proprietor could secure and renew copyright on a composite work when the individual contributions were not separately registered. The provision was apparently addressed to the difficulties such proprietors had previously faced in locating and obtaining the consent of authors at the time of renewal. See H.R.Rep. No. 2222, 60th Cong., 2d Sess., 15 (1909); 1 Legislative History of the 1909 Copyright Act, Part C, p. 56 (E. Brylawski & A. Goldman eds. 1976) (statement of Mr. Elder) (hereinafter Brylawski & Goldman); 5 id., Part K pp. 18-19 (statement of Mr. Putnam); id., at K77 (statement of Mr. Hale). See also Elder, Duration of Copyright, 14 Yale L.J. 417, 418 (1905). The effect of the § 7 consent requirement under the Court's reading should not only be to forbid the author of the derivative work to "employ a copyrighted work without the author's permission," ante, at 232, but also to penalize him by depriving him both of the right to use his own new material and, in theory, of the right to protect that new material against use by the public. It is most unlikely that a Congress which intended to promote the creation of literary works would have conditioned the protection of new material in an otherwise original work on "consent" of an original author who did not express the desire to protect his own work.

The Court of Appeals thought that the failure of Congress to grant an "exemption" to derivative works similar to that it granted composite works demonstrated its intention that derivative works lapse upon termination of the underlying author's copyright interest. 863 F.2d, at 1476. Section 24, however, does not exempt composite works from the renewal provision, but merely provides for their renewal by the proprietor alone when the individual contributions are not separately copyrighted. See 2 Nimmer § 9.03[B], p. 9-36. Moreover, the "author," entitled to renewal under § 24, refers back to the author of the original work and the derivative work. Congress did not need to make special provision for the derivative work in § 24 because it already did so in § 7, making it a new work "subject to copyright under the provisions of this title." 17 U.S.C. § 7 (1976 ed.).

^5  It is instructive to compare the language of § 7 to that used by Congress in 1976 to indicate that copyright in a derivative work under the new Act attached only to the new material:

"The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material. The copyright in such work is independent of, and does not affect or enlarge the scope, duration, ownership, or subsistence of, any copyright protection in the preexisting material." 17 U.S.C. § 103(b) (1988 ed.).

^6  I thus agree with the Court that publication of a derivative work cannot extend the scope or duration of the copyright in the original work, ante, at 234-235, and that the underlying work's copyright term exists independently of the derivative work's term. Ante, at 231-232, 235. As much is clear from the language of § 7, which extends the copyright to the entire work, but then limits the effect of that copyright. I further agree that the original author's right to "consent" to the copyright of a derivative work terminates when the statutory term of the copyright in the underlying work expires. Ante, at 235. As I explain, infra at 251-253, that result follows from the language of § 24. I do not agree, however, that the statutory right to distribute and publicly perform a derivative work that has been copyrighted with the original author's consent during the original term of the underlying work is limited by the validity and scope of the original copyright. Ante, at 235. Section 7, in conjunction with § 24, gives the derivative author two full terms of copyright in the entire derivative work both when the original work is used with the consent of the original author and when the original work is in the public domain. My conclusion thus rests upon the language of the statute. The Court's contrary assertion, that if the right to publish the derivative work extended beyond the original term of the underlying work it would "nulli[fy] the 'force' of the copyright in the 'matter employed,' " ante, at 236, simply begs the question of the extent of the original author's statutory rights. Even after the derivative work has been copyrighted, the original author retains all of his statutory rights, including the right to consent to the creation of additional derivative works during both the original and renewal terms. Moreover, even if the derivative work did derogate from the force of the original work, the provision to which the Court apparently refers states only that "publication " of a derivative work-and not consent to its creation-shall not affect the force of the copyright in the matter employed. The Court can avoid making § 7 complete surplus (and allow it to limit the rights of both the original and the derivative author) only by distorting the plain language of that provision.

^7  See, e.g., Gray v. Russell, 10 F.Cas. 1035, 1037-1038 (No. 5,728) (CC Mass.1839); Emerson v. Davies, 8 F.Cas. 615, 618-619 (No. 4,436) (CC Mass.1845); Shook v. Rankin, 21 F.Cas. 1335, 1336 (No. 12,804) (CC N.D.Ill.1875). The Court's difficulty in explaining away the language of § 7 is not surprising. The authority upon whom it almost exclusively relies, see ante, at 223, had the same difficulty, stating at one point that "[t]he statutory text was somewhat ambiguous," 1 Nimmer, p. 3-22.2, and admitting at another that under his reading of the Copyright Act the provision was largely irrelevant. See id., at 3-29, n. 17 ("[I]t is consent referred to in Sec. 7, but which would have efficacy as a matter of contract law even without Sec. 7"). At least in the Copyright Act of 1909, however, Congress knew exactly what it was doing.

^8  The Act of 1790, passed by the First Congress, provided "the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copyrighted work. § 1, 1 Stat. 124. Its successor, the Act of 1831, repeated the language that the author of a copyrighted work "shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, and vending" the work. Ch. 16, § 1, 4 Stat. 436. Benjamin Kaplan has written that the Act of 1870 constituted an "enlargement of the monopoly to cover the conversion of a work from one to another artistic medium." An Unhurried View of Copyright 32 (1967) (hereinafter Kaplan).

^9  "By the publication of Mrs. Stowe's book, the creations of the genius and imagination of the author have become as much public property as those of Homer or Cervantes. . . . All her conceptions and inventions may be used and abused by imitators, play-rights and poetasters [They are no longer her own-those who have purchased her book, may clothe them in English doggerel, in German or Chinese prose. Her absolute dominion and property in the creations of her genius and imagination have been voluntarily relinquished.] All that now remains is the copyright of her book; the exclusive right to print, reprint and vend it, and those only can be called infringers of her rights, or pirates of her property, who are guilty of printing, publishing, importing or vending without her license, 'copies of her book.' " Stowe v. Thomas, 23 F.Cas., at 208 (footnote omitted).

It appears that at least as late as 1902, English copyright law also did not recognize that a dramatization could infringe an author's rights in a book. See E. MacGillivray, A Treatise Upon The Law of Copyright 114 (1902); see also Reade v. Conquist, 9 C.B.N.S. 755, 142 Eng.Rep. 297 (C.P.1861); Coleman v. Wathen, 5 T.R. 245, 101 Eng.Rep. 137 (K.B.1793). Even after the passage of the Act of 1870, one American commentator flatly declared: "Even if the public recitation of a book, in which copyright exists, is not made from memory, but takes the form of a public reading, from the work itself, of the whole or portions of it, this would not amount to an infringement of the author's copyright." 2 J. Morgan, Law of Literature 700-701 (1875).

^10  "The American cases reflect no recognition that unauthorized dramatization could infringe rights in a nondramatic work until the 1870 copyright revision provided authors with the same option to reserve dramatization rights that they were afforded with respect to translation. By then, dramatizations like other derivative works-already had enjoyed almost a century of substantial independence. During this period, courts construing federal copyright statutes were willing to extend protection to them, but were reluctant to interfere with their unauthorized production." Jaszi 783.

See also Goldstein, Derivative Rights and Derivative Works in Copyright, 30 J. Copyright Society 209, 211-215 (1983).

^11  The history of the Copyright Act of 1909 is recounted in Justice Frankfurter's opinion for the Court in Fred Fisher Music Co. v. M. Witmark & Sons, 318 U.S. 643, 652, 63 S.Ct. 773, 777, 87 L.Ed. 1055 (1943).

^12  The first draft of the copyright bill considered in 1905 provided that if the author or his assigns did not make or authorize to be made a dramatization within 10 years of the date of registration, the work could be used for dramatization by other authors. 2 Brylawski & Goldman, Part D, p. LXV. A similar provision appeared in the third draft of the bill considered by the Conference the following year, 3 id., Part E, p. XL, and in the bill submitted by the Register of Copyrights to Congress. 1 id., Part B, pp. 37-38. The provision was eventually dropped during hearings in Congress and was never adopted into law.

^13  The first draft provided identical terms for both original works of authorship and derivative works, 2 id., Part D, pp. XXXVII-XXXVIII. Successive drafts gave the copyright in the original work to the author for his life plus 50 years, but limited the copyright in a derivative work to 50 years. 3 id., Part E, pp. LIII-LIV; 1 id., Part B, pp. 34-35. The single term was rejected at a late date by Congress and the final Act eventually provided the same two-term copyright for original and derivative works. See generally B. Ringer, Renewal of Copyright (1960), reprinted as Copyright Law Revision Study No. 31, prepared for the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., 115-121 (1961).

^14  The amendment apparently emerged from dialogue between Mr. W.B. Hale, representative of the American Law Book Company, and Senator Smoot:

"Mr. Hale: 'There is another verbal criticism I should like to make in section 6 of the Kittredge bill, which also relates to compilations, abridgments, etc.'
"The Chairman [Senator Smoot]. 'I think it is the same in the other bills.'
"Mr. Hale. 'Yes; it is the same in all the bills. I heartily agree with and am in favor of that section; but in line 12, in lieu of the words "but no such copyright shall effect the force or validity," etc., I would prefer to substitute these words: "and the publication of any such new work shall not affect the copyright," etc. . . . Under the act, as it stands now, it says the copyright shall not affect it. I would like to meet the case of a new compiled work, within the meaning of this clause, that is not copyrighted, or where, by reason of some accident the copyright fails. That should not affect the original copyrights in the works that have entered into and formed a part of this new compiled work. It does not change the intent of this section in any way.' " 5, Brylawski & Goldman, Part K, p. 78.

^15  In Ricordi, the author of the derivative work not only produced a new derivative work, but also breached his covenant not to distribute the work, after the first term of the underlying copyright. As Justice WHITE has explained, "Ricordi merely held that the licensee of a copyright holder may not prepare a new derivative work based upon the copyrighted work after termination of the grant." Mills Music, Inc. v. Snyder, 469 U.S. 153, 183, n. 7, 105 S.Ct. 638, 655, n. 7, 83 L.Ed.2d 556 (1985) (dissenting opinion).

^16  The result follows as well from the "force and validity" clause of § 7.

^17  Congress was primarily concerned with the ability of the author to exploit his own work of authorship:

"Your committee, after full consideration, decided that it was distinctly to the advantage of the author to preserve the renewal period. It not infrequently happens that the author sells his copyright outright to a publisher for a comparatively small sum. If the work proves to be a great success and lives beyond the term of twenty-eight years, your committee felt that it should be the exclusive right of the author to take the renewal term, and the law should be framed as is the existing law, so that he could not be deprived of that right." H.R.Rep. No. 2222, 60th Cong., 2d Sess., at 14.

^18  The creation of a derivative work often is in the best interests of both the original author and his statutory successors. As one commentator has noted:

"The movie Rear Window became a selling point for anthologies containing the Woolrich story. The musical play Cats no doubt sent many people who dimly remembered the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as the chief, if not the only oeuvre of T.S. Eliot to the bookstore for Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." Weinreb, Fair's Fair: A Comment on the Fair Use Doctrine, 103 Harv.L.Rev. 1137, 1147 (1990).

^19  See 17 U.S.C. § 24 (1976 ed.) ("[I]n the case of . . . any work copyrighted by . . . an employer for whom such work is made for hire, the proprietor of such copyright shall be entitled to a renewal and extension of the copyright in such work for the further term of twenty-eight years"). See also Ellingson, Copyright Exception for Derivative Works and the Scope of Utilization, 56 Ind.L.J. 1, 11 (1980-1981).

^20  See Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. v. Jerry Vogel Music Co., 161 F.2d 406 (CA2 1946); Edward B. Marks Music Corp. v. Jerry Vogel Music Co., 140 F.2d 266 (CA2 1944). In the "12th Street Rag" case, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. v. Jerry Vogel Music Co., 221 F.2d 569 (CA2 1955), the Court of Appeals held that a work of music, intended originally to stand on its own as an instrumental, could become a joint work when it was later sold to a publisher who commissioned lyrics to be written for it. The decision, which would give the creator of the derivative work and the underlying author a joint interest in the derivative work, accomplishes the same result that I believe § 7 does expressly.

^21  "The effect of the Fred Fisher [, 318 U.S. 643, 63 S.Ct. 773, 87 L.Ed. 1055 (1943),] case and other authorities is that if the author is dead when the twenty-eighth year comes round, the renewal reverts, free and clear, to his widow, children, and so forth in a fixed order of precedency; but if the author is alive in that year, the original sale holds and there is no reversion. The distinction is hard to defend and may operate in a peculiarly perverse way where on the faith of a transfer from the now-deceased author, the transferee has created a 'derivative work,' say a movie based on the original novel." Kaplan 112.

^22  "To such extent as it may be permissible to consider policy considerations, the equities lie preponderantly in favor of the proprietor of the derivative copyright. In contrast to the situation where an assignee or licensee has done nothing more than print, publicize and distribute a copyrighted story or novel, a person who with the consent of the author has created an opera or a motion picture film will often have made contributions literary, musical and economic, as great as or greater than the original author. As pointed out in the Bricker article [Bricker, Renewal and Extension of Copyright, 29 S.Cal.L.Rev. 23, 33 (1955) ], the purchaser of derivative rights has no truly effective way to protect himself against the eventuality of the author's death before the renewal period since there is no way of telling who will be the surviving widow, children or next of kin or the executor until that date arrives. To be sure, this problem exists in equal degree with respect to assignments or licenses of underlying copyright, but in such cases there is not the countervailing consideration that large and independently copyrightable contributions will have been made by the transferee." Rohauer v. Killiam Shows, Inc., 551 F.2d 484, 493 (CA2), cert. denied, 431 U.S. 949, 97 S.Ct. 2666, 53 L.Ed.2d 266 (1977).


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).