12 October 2005

Copyright Statute Of Frauds Absolute.

As much as I take secret glee (ok, its on an internationally available blog now, so it isn't secret any more) in the misfortunes of the distributor of the Veggie Tales cartoon series (a stealthy Christian evangelization tool), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a circuit known for its crabbed interpretations of the law, acted unjustely in summarily dismissing an action by the distributor based on an alleged transfer of a copyright, where there had been partial performance of the agreement. Why did the Court dismiss the case? There was no transfer of rights in writing signed by the party being sued to prove the existence of the agreement.

This is what the letter of the law says, and perhaps precedent compelled it, but similar language in statutes across the English speaking common law world has been interpreted to have common sense exceptions. The statute of frauds is not supposed to be used to perpetrate fraud, yet the copyright law version of the statute was used in this case for that very purpose.

1 comment:

Ben Allfree said...

Hey, not sure how old this post is, but I read the PDF. There was no penned agreement nor was there an electronic written agreement. The best they had was an internal memo confirming among themselves that they had agreed over the phone. No email or piece of paper was ever sent to the other party. So I'd say yes the judge was right to overturn the verdict. The original jury probably took that internal memo as an admission of something.