Bartow Copyright Collection : Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the IP Library

A place where there isn't any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away.

The featured exhibit this week from the Bartow Copyright Collection is the subject of an interesting copyright appeal. In GRACEN V. BRADFORD EXCHANGE, 698 F.2d 300 (7th Cir.1983) Circuit Judge Poser wrote the opinion holding that the trial court erroneously ordered the entry of summary judgment against the plaintiff, an artist who had displayed her art work of characters from the copyrighted motion picture The Wizard of Oz, because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the scope of the plaintiff‘s implied license to make a derivative work.

The copyright owner of The Wizard of Oz licensed the defendant Bradford to manufacture ceramic collector plates bearing the likenesses of the characters and scenes from the movie. The plaintiff, a Bradford employee, made a painting based on photographs from the movie that Bradford had furnished and from memory. The plaintiff‘s painting was preliminarily chosen as the winner of a contest to design the plates, but the parties could not agree on contract terms. The trial court held that the plaintiff‘s subsequent display of a photograph of the painting and drawings she had made of Wizard of Oz characters, as part of her portfolio, infringed the film‘s copyright.

The plaintiff had authority to make derivative works from the motion picture because Bradford had invited her to make the painting and drawings. The question of whether she was also licensed to exhibit and copyright the works presented a genuine issue of material fact because Bradford had agreed to return the painting to the plaintiff and must have known that she would exhibit the works to advance her career. The amount that Bradford had paid the plaintiff, which was also paid to the other contestants, was not shown to be in payment for full rights in the works.