Touro Law Review


After going to a theatre and watching a new movie, would it be possible to go home and write a book about it? What about after reading a novel? Would a reader be free to write a new book using the same characters? Would a teacher be able to write her own training manual using the exact techniques she had just learned in another author's book? Is there any recourse for authors facing these types of situations? This Comment explores how two lower courts have recently addressed these questions. The first decision, Warner Bros.Entertainment Inc. v. RDR Books,determined whether an unauthorized encyclopedia of the Harry Potter series infringed the original author's copyright. The second case, Peter Letterese and Associates, Inc. v. World Institute of Scientology, determined whether the scientology church infringed an author's copyright protection when the church, without the author's consent, used content from the author's book in its materials.

This Comment will first analyze the two recent cases. It will address the scope of copyright protection that authors are granted, determine when the use of an author's work constitutes copyright infringement, and ascertain when the copyright infringer is entitled to assert the fair use defense. Lastly, this Comment will address the disparities in the cases, evaluate whether the cases should have been decided differently, and suggest if the tests used by either court should be modified.