Cavalier v. Random House, Inc.
297 F.3d 915 (9th Cir. 2002)
The Cavaliers wrote some
children's books involving a talking moon. They tried to sell these books
to Random House, but no agreement was ever reached. A little while later,
Random House published different books with similar themes. The Cavaliers
sued for copyright infringement.
The Cavaliers argued that
Random House's new books were substantially similar to their work.
The Trial Court found for
Random House. The Cavaliers appealed.
The Trial Court found that
many of the elements that the Cavaliers' claimed were being infringed
were just general ideas or stock characters, and those are not
protectable by copyright.
The Court found that the
copyrightable elements of the Cavaliers' work were not substantially
similar to Random House's work.
The Appellate Court affirmed.
The Appellate Court found
that there is a two part analysis for infringement:
The extrinsic test which is an objective comparison of specific
expressive elements, and
The intrinsic test which is a subjective comparison that focuses
on whether a reasonable audience would find the "total concept and
feel" of the works to be similar.
The Court looked at the fact
of the case and concluded that neither the works as a whole, nor specific
elements of the works were substantially similar enough to rise to the level of infringement.