California Lawyer


July 2013

"Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so. Before us is a case about a lawyer who tried to establish that a company owned a copyright by drafting a contract calling the company the copyright owner, even though the company lacked the rights associated with copyright ownership. Heeding Lincoln's wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so."

- Ninth U.S. Circuit Judge Richard R. Clifton, setting the stage for a ruling in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn (2013 WL 1908876 (9th Cir.)) that a company lacked standing to sue for copyright infringement because it did not own the copyrights in question.

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