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TWIN BOOKS CORP. v. WALT DISNEY CO.

January 3, 1995

TWIN BOOKS CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY, BUENA VISTA HOME VIDEO, INC., and BUENA VISTA PICTURES DISTRIBUTION, INC., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CLAUDIA WILKEN

 Plaintiff, a former non-exclusive licensee of Disney products, brings this suit for infringement of derivative copyrights in the book Bambi. Plaintiff alleges that last year it acquired certain rights in Bambi, and now seeks profits from the Bambi motion picture and an injunction prohibiting further exhibitions of the film.

 The parties' cross motions for summary judgment came on regularly for hearing before the Court on September 9, 1994. The Court thereafter directed the parties to submit supplemental briefing. Having considered oral argument of counsel and all the papers submitted, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motion and DENIES Plaintiff's motion, as follows.

 STANDARD FOR GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

 Summary judgment is properly granted when no genuine and dispute issues of material fact remain or when, viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is clearly entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986); Eisenberg v. Insurance Co. of North America, 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987).

 The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no material factual dispute. Therefore, the Court must regard as true the opposing party's evidence, if supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); Intel Corp. v. Hartford-Accident and Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991).

 Material facts which would preclude entry of summary judgment are those which, under applicable substantive law, may affect the outcome of the case. The substantive law will identify which facts are material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986).

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Bambi was written by Felix Salten, an Austrian citizen. The book was first published in the German language in Berlin, Germany in 1923, without a copyright notice. A second German language edition was published in Germany in 1926, with a copyright notice.

 At the time of both publications, the 1909 Copyright Act governed copyright law in the United States. Under the 1909 Act, the maximum 56 year term of copyright was divided into periods: the initial period of 28 years, and a second 28 year period upon renewal in the year. A claim to copyright the 1926 edition of Bambi was registered in the United States Copyright Office in 1927.

 On December 3, 1936, Salten and his publisher assigned rights in the Bambi book to Sidney Franklin ("the Salten assignment"). On April 6, 1937, Franklin assigned all his rights under the Salten assignment to Walt Disney Productions ("the Franklin assignment"). Defendant The Walt Disney Company is the successor in interest to Walt Disney Productions. Both of these assignments were recorded in the Copyright Office in 1939. These assignments transferred all copyrights except literary rights to publish the original Bambi text and translations thereof.

 Disney first released the Bambi motion picture in 1942, under its rights from the Franklin assignment. The picture has been re-released several times, and Disney has marketed many other products based on it.

 Salten died in 1945. The copyright in the Bambi book was renewed in 1954 by Salten's daughter, Anna Salten Wyler. The renewal certificate shows that it was for a work registered as published, and 1926 was listed as the original publication date.

 In 1958, following extensive negotiations, Anna Wyler executed three agreements with Disney concerning rights to the Bambi ...


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