New Era Publications Int'l v. Carol Publishing Group
904 F.2d 152 (2d Cir. 1990)

  • A former scientologist named Caven-Atack wrote a book critical of the religion's founder Hubbard. The book quoted widely from Hubbard's works. After Caven-Atack's publisher, Carol published the book, Hubbard's authorized publisher, New Era, sued for copyright infringement.
    • Caven-Atack argued that he was protected by the fair use provision (17 U.S.C. 107) because his work was a criticism of the original work.
  • The Trial Court found for New Era and issued an injunction against the book. Caven-Atack appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed.
    • The Appellate Court looked to the four-factor test for determining if something counts as fair use under 107:
      • Is the purpose and character of the use commercial or non-commercial?
        • The Court found that the purpose of the book was criticism, and that "purposes such as criticism scholarship or research is not an infringement of copyright."
      • The nature of the copyrighted work.
        • The Court found that the scope of fair use is greater with respect to non-fiction than fiction.
      • The amount of the original work used.
        • The Court found that Caven-Atack only quoted "a miniscule amount" of Hubbard's overall body of work, and that the amount used does not "take essentially the heart of Hubbard's work."
      • The effect on the potential market.
        • New Era argued that since Caven-Atack's book was so unflattering, it would hurt the market for Hubbard's books. However, the Court interpreted this factor should not include economic harm via criticsm.
          • Basically this factor is to stop economic harm from people who would buy the copy instead of the original, not harm from convincing people that Hubbard's work wasn't worth reading.
    • Based on their balancing of the four factors, the Court found that Caven-Atack's book was covered under fair use.