Plaintiff Castle Rock Entertainment, Inc. owned the copyrights for the entire Seinfeld television series. Defendants, author Beth B. Golub and publisher Carol Publishing Group, Inc., released a book titled The Seinfeld Aptitude Test (The SAT), a 132-page book that contained 643 trivia questions and answers about the characters and events in Seinfeld.
The book drew from eighty-four of the eighty-six Seinfeld episodes broadcast up to that time and included direct quotes. The district court ruled against defendants, finding that this was not fair use. Defendants appealed.
The issue presented was whether defendants’ use of copyright protected aspects of a television series to create a trivia book for fans of the series constituted fair use.
The Second Circuit held that defendants’ unauthorized use of the copyright protected aspects of the television series was not fair use. The court determined that defendants’ use was commercial and, more importantly, non-transformative because The SAT did not provide commentary or analysis about Seinfeld or act as a research tool, but instead “[repackaged] Seinfeld to entertain Seinfeld viewers.” The court then noted that defendants’ creation of 643 questions based on the television series was more than was necessary to advance defendants’ purported “commentary” of the show, further suggesting that the book’s purpose was entertainment. Turning to the effect on the potential market, the court found that although Castle Rock had shown little interest in exploiting the market for Seinfeld-related books, the defendants’ work substituted for the derivative market for such books, and the court noted that “copyright law must respect [the] creative and economic choice” of plaintiffs not to exploit a particular market.
Castle Rock Entm’t, Inc. v. Carol Publ. Group, Inc.,
150 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 1998)