Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Warner Bros. in Infringement Case
After more than 10 years in court, a legal dispute over "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone With the Wind" and "Tom and Jerry" merchandise finally has been settled, with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals siding in favor of Warner Bros.
Here's a little backstory: Avela, Dave Grossman Creations, X One X Productions and Leo Valencia received movie posters, lobby cards, and movie and cartoon characters, and used them on merchandise, like lunch boxes, T-shirts and more. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. sued them for infringing on its intellectual property, and the defendants claimed that they acquired the materials without copyright notices, and therefore they (in their opinions) were public domain.
In 2011, the court rejected their assertion, and said that "the scope of the film copyrights covers all visual depictions of the film characters at issue, except for any aspects of the characters that were injected into the public domain by the publicity materials."
Basically, that meant that the defendants were allowed to recreate copies of the materials, but couldn't use the actual materials (which they did).
A Missouri district court awarded Warner Bros. statutory damages of $10,000 per copyright issue—a total of 257.