Law School Case Brief
Nash v. CBS, Inc. - 899 F.2d 1537 (7th Cir. 1990)
Historical facts are among the ideas and discoveries that 17 U.S.C.S. § 102(b) does not cover.
Jay Robert Nash wrote several books regarding the death of John Dillenger. CBS, Inc. made an episode concerning the death of Dillenger for one of their weekly television series. Nash sued for copyright infringement. CBS, Inc. moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted. Nash appealed.
Was the use of Nash’s historical analysis and facts protected by copyright statute where CBS, Inc. only used Nash’s analysis and then put their own spin on the facts?
The court held that Nash’s books involved historical facts that were not protected by 17 U.S.C.S. § 102(b). Section 102(b) did not cover ideas or discoveries such as historical facts. Further, the court held that broad latitude must be given to subsequent authors who make use of historical subject matter. Nash’s work was composed of analyzing other people's facts and defendants' work borrowed Nash's analysis. However, CBS, Inc.’s work did not involve any of Nash’s expression. CBS, Inc. used their own distinctive overlay in creating their episode. Therefore, the court affirmed.
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