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Copyrights Entertainment and Sports Law Litigation

9th Cir. Finds No Fair Use In Dr. Seuss/Star Trek “Mashup”

In Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. v. ComicMix LLC, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit held in December that ComicMix’s illustrated book combining elements of several Dr. Seuss children’s books with characters, themes and other features of the popular sci-fi series Star Trek was not a fair use of the Seuss material from which it had admittedly been “slavishly” copied.

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In Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P. v. ComicMix LLC, 983 F.3d 443 (2020), a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in December that ComicMix’s illustrated book combining elements of several Dr. Seuss children’s books with characters, themes and other features of the popular sci-fi series Star Trek was not a fair use of the Seuss material from which it had admittedly been “slavishly” copied. The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s determination of fair use and grant of summary judgment to ComicMix. (See our May 24, 2019 article in the New York Law Journal, “‘Mash-Up’ of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek Held Fair Use,” discussing the district court’s decision.) The Ninth Circuit found that all four fair use factors set forth in §107 of the Copyright Act favored Dr. Seuss Enterprises. In particular, the Ninth Circuit found that ComicMix’s use was not transformative and that it would cause significant market harm to the plaintiff.

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