IRVING R. KAUFMAN, Circuit Judge:
Nearly half a century ago, a distinguished panel of this Court including Learned Hand called the question of fair
In this case, we are asked to decide whether the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the basis of the affirmative defense of fair use in an action for copyright infringement. Plaintiff had published a book of interviews with women discussing their experiences with abortion and unwanted pregnancy. Several years later, defendant Burtchaell was preparing a series of essays on abortion, and requested permission to quote extensively from plaintiff's interviews. Despite the denial of permission, he included numerous verbatim quotations in his book.
Plaintiff commenced an action for copyright infringement in the Southern District of New York (Charles L. Brieant, District Judge), 631 F.Supp. 1432. Defendants moved for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, on two grounds: failure to file the copyright assignments and fair use. Plaintiff then unsuccessfully cross-moved for summary judgment on the question of liability. Defendants' motion contended first that the district court lacked jurisdiction because plaintiff failed to record with the Copyright Office the assignments that she obtained from the women interviewed. Defendants maintained that the 1976 amendments to the Copyright Act, which require that such transfer agreements be filed, applied retroactively to plaintiff's pre-1976 assignments.
Because we now affirm the lower court's grant of summary judgment on the fair use defense, we find it unnecessary to reach the recordation argument. Instead, we shall assume arguendo that the plaintiff's copyrights were valid and proceed directly to the fair use question. At the outset, we acknowledge that summary judgment on the question of fair use has been the exception rather than the rule. After analyzing the alleged facts in dispute and the fair use factors, however, we conclude that the fair use defense was properly sustained at the summary judgment stage, even when the
1. Pregnant by Mistake
In 1973, Katrina Maxtone-Graham published a book entitled Pregnant by Mistake, consisting of interviews with 17 women who had discussed with her their unwanted pregnancies. The names of the interviewees were changed to assure anonymity. Most of the women discussed the circumstances surrounding their abortions, but some explained decisions to carry a pregnancy to term and either to give the child up for adoption or raise the child themselves. Maxtone-Graham tape recorded all of the interviews, and after having transcripts prepared, she edited the texts to avoid repetition and unnecessary verbiage. At the time of the interviews, all of the women signed copyright assignments in favor of the plaintiff, but these agreements were never recorded with the Copyright Office.
In August 1973, Liveright published Pregnant by Mistake, and 2,349 copies of the book were sold from the day of publication (August 31, 1973) to the day it went out of print (March 31, 1982), with almost 2,000 of the sales occurring within four months of publication. On February 25, 1982, just before her book was to go out of print, Maxtone-Graham obtained from Liveright all publishing rights to Pregnant by Mistake. Maxtone-Graham owns a small publishing company, and her stated intention was to produce a "very small printing for people who have requested copies" at an indefinite time in the future. To date, no second edition of the book has been published.
2. Rachel Weeping
James Tunstead Burtchaell is a Catholic priest and professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he has served on the faculty since 1966. He first decided to write Rachel Weeping, the sixth of his books, in 1976 and completed the title essay in August 1978. This essay is the only one in the book containing quotations from Pregnant by Mistake. Burtchaell maintains that the purpose of Rachel Weeping was to critique the published accounts of "abortion veterans," and that the book was aimed at the relatively small group of people interested in the public debate on abortion. He drew upon two primary sources in the title essay: Pregnant by Mistake and The Ambivalence of Abortion by Linda Bird Francke. Burtchaell offered a general characterization of Maxtone-Graham's book in his essay and mentioned the author's name. When he quoted from Pregnant by Mistake, he usually credited the source.
In the first few pages of his essay, Burtchaell explained that he regarded Maxtone-Graham's interviews as helpful source material, but that his own intention was to move beyond anecdotal reflection and offer a framework for analysis of the women's experiences.
The first essay in Rachel Weeping was approximately 37,000 words long, and about 7,000 of these were direct quotations from the interviews in Pregnant by Mistake. Burtchaell's book contains 325 pages of text, and the title essay filled 60 pages. The district court found that Rachel Weeping includes 4.3 percent of the words in Pregnant by Mistake.
3. Denial of Permission to Quote
Burtchaell first requested permission to quote from Pregnant by Mistake "beyond the usual 500 or 1,000 word limit" in a letter to Liveright dated August 17, 1978. He sent the letter shortly after completing the first Rachel Weeping essay. When he received no reply to the letter, Burtchaell telephoned Liveright and was told that detailed production and financial information would have to be provided before his request could be considered. The next communication was in June 1981, when Burtchaell furnished the information and again requested permission, stating that he wished to quote about 5,000 words. In August 1981, Liveright asked Burtchaell to supply a copy of the essay for Maxtone-Graham to examine, and he did so. On November 4, 1981, Mary Ryan, an employee of Liveright, telephoned Burtchaell to inform him that Maxtone-Graham opposed granting permission and that Liveright would honor her request.
On November 6, 1981, Burtchaell wrote directly to Maxtone-Graham through Liveright, setting forth his predicament and urging her to reconsider. He explained to her that he had undertaken an analytical work, and thought it natural for him to comment on her essentially reportorial book.
Maxtone-Graham makes several arguments on appeal in her attempt to demonstrate that the grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants was improper. First, she alleges that Burtchaell made numerous errors in quoting from her book. She concedes that many of the mistakes were trivial, but she also argues that Burtchaell misled his readers by quoting women describing their experiences with adoption as if they were discussing abortion. These errors, she maintains, rob the work of scholarly quality and make Burtchaell's purpose in quoting from Pregnant by Mistake suspect. Among her other claims is that the quantum of use was excessive and that the infringement harmed her economic interests. Maxtone-Graham also maintains that Burtchaell acted unfairly by first seeking permission and then proceeding to quote from the interviews after permission had been denied. Finally, she argues that there is a real issue concerning her motivation in denying permission. We shall return to these contentions momentarily.
B. SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND FAIR USE
The general principles that this court has developed in regard to summary judgment,
George C. Frey Ready-Mixed Concrete, Inc. v. Pine Hill Concrete Mix Corp., 554 F.2d 551, 555 (2d Cir.1977) (quoting Heyman v. Commerce & Industry Insurance Co., 524 F.2d 1317, 1319-20 (2d Cir.1975)). Because the fair use question is so highly dependent on the particular facts of each case, courts generally, including this court, have usually found it appropriate to allow the issue to proceed to trial. DC Comics, Inc. v. Reel Fantasy, Inc., 696 F.2d 24, 27-28 (2d Cir.1982); Meeropol v. Nizer, 560 F.2d 1061, 1068-71 (2d Cir.1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1013, 98 S.Ct. 727, 54 L.Ed.2d 756 (1978). In DC Comics, for example, we held:
696 F.2d at 28.
This court, however, has never suggested the adoption of a per se rule granting a plaintiff in a copyright infringement case immunity from the perils of Rule 56 when a defendant interposes the defense of fair use.
C. THE FAIR USE DEFENSE
The roots of what we now know as "fair use" are firmly planted in the early English common law, where the defense was known as "abridgment." One of the earliest cases to raise the issue was Gyles v. Wilcox, 2 Atk. 141 (1740) (No. 130), a decision upon a bill for an injunction to stay the publication of a legal treatise. Lord Chancellor Hardwicke evaluated the defense of abridgment:
Id. at 143. From the earliest days of the doctrine, courts have recognized that when a second author uses another's protected expression in a creative and inventive way, the result may be the advancement of learning rather than the exploitation of the first writer.
Fair use made its debut in American law with Justice Story's opinion in Folsom v. Marsh, 9 F.Cas. 342 (C.C.D.Mass.1841) (No. 4,901).
Id. at 348. He framed his analysis in terms of two extremes. At one extreme was the studied evasion, in which "the whole substance of one work has been copied from another, with slight omissions and formal differences only...." Id. at 344. At the other extreme was the use of verbatim portions of an earlier work to review or criticize. Justice Story wrote of this type of use:
Id. at 344-45.
As Justice Story observed, however, many uses would fall somewhere in between the two extremes. To evaluate cases falling in the gray area, he proposed
Id. at 345.
D. THE FOUR-PART INQUIRY OF SECTION 107
It is remarkable how much of the flavor of Justice Story's analysis remains intact in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. In enacting the legislation, Congress noted that its purpose was to "restate the present judicial doctrine of fair use, not to change, narrow, or enlarge it in any way." H.R.Rep. No. 1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 66 (1976) reprinted in 1976 U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 5659, 5680 ("House Report"); S.Rep. No. 473, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 62 (1975). At the same time, however, the legislature expressed its intention to give courts the freedom to adapt the doctrine to particular situations on a case-by-case basis, in light of changing technology. 17 U.S.C. Sec. 107 reads as follows:
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —
The factors listed in the statute are not intended to be exclusive: "[S]ince the doctrine is an equitable rule of reason, no generally applicable definition is possible, and each case raising the question must be decided on its own facts." House Report at 65, quoted in Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 105 S.Ct. 2218, 2231, 85 L.Ed.2d 588. They are, however, particularly relevant to the fair use question. We address each factor separately.
1. Purpose and Character of Use
The fair use provision of the Copyright Act expressly mentions "criticism" and "comment" as favored under the statute, and we think it indisputable that Burtchaell employed the material from Pregnant by Mistake for just such purposes. Certainly, Rachel Weeping is not merely the product of "the facile use of the scissors," to borrow Justice Story's phrase in Folsom. Rather, Burtchaell's work takes portions of the free form interviews and organizes them into a topical framework to make the case against abortion. One need not agree with the merit, methodology or conclusions of Rachel Weeping to recognize that Burtchaell applied substantial intellectual labor to the verbatim quotations, continually offering his own insights and opinions. As the district court found, Burtchaell drew upon published primary sources "to write persuasively and without arousing the suspicion of the reader...." We also agree with Judge Brieant that "[a]n objective reader of Rachel Weeping would never confuse that work with the original Pregnant by Mistake, nor find that its author intended to supplant that work in the marketplace with his own."
a. Commission of Error
Maxtone-Graham argues, however, that Burtchaell's scholarly purpose is contradicted
The commission of errors in borrowing copyrighted material is a proper ingredient to consider in making the fair use determination. Meeropal v. Nizer, 560 F.2d 1061, 1071 (2d Cir.1977), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 1013, 98 S.Ct. 727, 54 L.Ed.2d 756 (1978). It is, however, but one of many factors. In view of our evaluation of the other fair use elements, we conclude that the errors in Rachel Weeping do not place the work beyond the pale of fair use. In Gyles v. Wilcox, the court noted that an otherwise "fair abridgment" might sometimes be "prejudicial, by mistaking and curtailing the sense of an author." 2 Atk. at 143. Furthermore, as a judicial body, we consider it highly undesirable to hinge a legal determination solely on the relative truth or accuracy of statements made in the context of debate on a highly volatile social issue. See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 278-83, 84 S.Ct. 710, 725-28, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964). Nor do we think it wise to give much legal relevance to whether the allegedly infringing work may be labeled "scholarly" or "dogmatic," for the dogma of one individual may be the original scholarship of another. Only where the distortions were so deliberate, and so misrepresentative of the original work that no reasonable person could find them to be the product of mere carelessness would we incline toward rejecting a fair use claim. The errors in Rachel Weeping do not cross that threshold.
b. Commercial Use
The Supreme Court recently addressed the question of fair use in Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 447-55, 104 S.Ct. 774, 791-95, 78 L.Ed.2d 574 (1984) (time-shifting by owners of home video tape recorders constitutes fair use) and in Harper & Row, supra (magazine's appropriation of right of first publication of former President Ford's unpublished
464 U.S. at 448-49, 451, 104 S.Ct. at 792, 793 (emphasis added). Appellant makes much of the last sentence, but we do not read it as altering the traditional multifactor fair use inquiry. Indeed, the Court relied on a House report which states that the statutory language requiring consideration of "whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes" was
464 U.S. at 449 n. 32, 104 S.Ct. at 792 n. 32 (quoting House Report at 66, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1976, p. 5679). This understanding was reflected in Harper & Row, in which the Court noted: "The fact that a publication was commercial as opposed to non-profit is a separate factor that tends to weigh against a finding of fair use." 105 S.Ct. at 2231 (emphasis added). Only an unduly narrow reading of the language in Sony Corp. and an inattention to the context could lead to the conclusion that the Court intended to attach heightened significance to the element of commerciality.
It is undisputed that Burtchaell was paid for his efforts and that his publishers were not motivated by purely charitable intentions. But the inquiry does not end there. We do not read Section 107(1) as requiring us to make a clear-cut choice between two polar characterizations, "commercial" and "non-profit." Were that the case, fair use would be virtually obliterated, for "[a]ll publications presumably are operated for profit...." Koussevitzky v. Allen, Towne & Heath, 188 Misc. 479, 483, 68 N.Y.S.2d 779, 783, aff'd, 272 App.Div. 759, 69 N.Y.S.2d 432 (1st Dept.1947), quoted in Rosemont Enterprises, 366 F.2d at 307. The commercial nature of a use is a matter of degree, not an absolute, and we find that the educational elements of Rachel Weeping far outweigh the commercial aspects of the book. While Rachel Weeping involved some commercial aspects, it was first and foremost an essay expressing a certain point of view on the abortion issue. With sales of 6,000 copies, it was hardly a commercial blockbuster and, by all indications, was never intended as such. Of course, even a minimal level of commercial use weighs against a finding of fair use, but whether it affects the ultimate determination depends on the totality of factors.
2. The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
The second factor to be considered is the nature of Pregnant by Mistake. As we have noted, the book is a collection of verbatim interviews and, in the district court's words, "essentially reportorial in nature." We agree with Judge Brieant, however, that Pregnant by Mistake cannot be characterized as the product of mere "diligence," like the index in New York Times Co. v. Roxbury Data Interface, Inc., 434 F.Supp. 217, 221 (D.N.J.1977). Pregnant by Mistake, like all interviews, contains elements of creative journalistic effort. "Creation of a nonfiction work, even a compilation of pure fact, entails
Rosemont Enterprises, 366 F.2d at 307 (quoting Sayre v. Moore, 105 Eng.Rep. 138, 139 (K.B.1801)). Like the biography, the interview is an invaluable source of material for social scientists, and later use of verbatim quotations within reason is both foreseeable and desirable.
3. The Volume of Quotation
We next turn to the quantitative assessment of the amount and substantiality of the excerpts in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. There are no absolute rules as to how much of a copyrighted work may be copied and still be considered a fair use. In some instances, copying a work wholesale has been held to be fair use, Sony Corp.; Williams & Wilkins Co. v. United States, 487 F.2d 1345, 203 Ct.Cl. 74 (1973), aff'd (per curiam), 420 U.S. 376, 95 S.Ct. 1344, 43 L.Ed.2d 264 (1975), while in other cases taking only a tiny portion of the original work has been held unfair. Questions of fair use may turn on qualitative assessments. "One writer might take all the vital part of another's book, though it might be but a small proportion of the book in quantity." Bramwell v. Halcomb, 3 My. & Cr. (Ch.) 736, 738 (1837). In Harper & Row, the Supreme Court found that although the words quoted were an insubstantial portion of former President Ford's manuscript, "the Nation took what was essentially the heart of the book." 105 S.Ct. at 2233 (quoting 557 F.Supp., at 1072). See Meeropol v. Nizer, 560 F.2d 1071 (copyrighted letters comprised less than one percent of infringing work but were featured prominently in promotional materials); Roy Export Co. Establishment of Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Black Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 503 F.Supp. 1137, 1145 (S.D.N.Y.1980) (jury could have found that taking 55 seconds of one hour, 29 minute film was qualitatively substantial), aff'd, 672 F.2d 1095 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 826, 103 S.Ct. 60, 74 L.Ed.2d 63 (1982).
We agree with the district court that Burtchaell's inclusion of 4.3 percent of the words in Pregnant by Mistake in his own book is not incompatible with a finding of fair use. Burtchaell testified that he relied upon the verbatim quotations to make his own work more persuasive and because conducting his own interviews would have been impractical because he is a Catholic priest. Nor can it be said that Burtchaell took the heart of Pregnant by Mistake, since Maxtone-Graham's book consists of narratives by 17 women, and has no identifiable core that could be appropriated.
4. Effect on the Market
The final factor that we are required to consider is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work." The Supreme Court recently referred to the impact on the market as "undoubtedly the single most important element of fair use." Harper & Row, 105 S.Ct. 2234. The Court also had occasion to comment upon the market effect in Sony Corp. It said:
464 U.S. at 451, 104 S.Ct. at 793. Curiously, however, this bifurcated analysis was not employed by the Court when, only a year later, the issue of fair use resurfaced in Harper & Row. Despite the Court's finding that the Nation's stated purpose in publishing the excerpts was to scoop the forthcoming extracts in Time, the Court made no presumption of harm. Instead, it focused its inquiry on actual damages and assessed the likelihood of future harm. The Court held that "to negate fair use one need only show that if the challenged use `should become widespread, it would adversely affect the potential market for the copyrighted work.'" 105 S.Ct. at 2234-35 (quoting Sony Corp., 464 U.S. at 451, 104 S.Ct. at 793). Harm to derivative works must be taken into account, see Meeropol v. Nizer, 560 F.2d at 1070; Roy Export v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 503 F.Supp. at 1145-46, as must any effect on the value of adaptation and serialization rights. 3 Nimmer Sec. 13.05(B).
In view of our conclusion that the noncommercial elements of Rachel Weeping overwhelm its commercial aspects, it is not clear that the dicta from Sony Corp. regarding the presumption of market harm governs here. Fortunately, we need not settle that issue here, for whether we presume harm, or search for proof of it, it is abundantly clear that Rachel Weeping poses no more than an insignificant threat of economic damage to Maxtone-Graham.
5. Other Factors
The additional points raised by Maxtone-Graham do not affect our analysis of the fair use question. Although bad faith by the user of copyrighted material suggests unfairness, Burtchaell's decision to publish despite Maxtone-Graham's denial of permission does not deserve that characterization. Unlike Harper & Row, where materials were purloined and portions subsequently published, Burtchaell obtained Pregnant by Mistake through legitimate channels and made repeated attempts to obtain permission to quote from it. He was willing to pay the customary price, and, in fact, did so for the rights to quote from The Ambivalence of Abortion. Burtchaell should not be penalized for erring on the side of safety.
We find no genuine dispute on material issues of fact in this case, and conclude from our evaluation of the factors that the fair use defense was properly sustained as a matter of law. Burtchaell's use of Pregnant by Mistake was precisely the type of criticism of or comment on copyrighted materials anticipated by Section 107. The two books treated the same topic but served dissimilar functions, and it can hardly be said that Rachel Weeping emerged from "the facile use of the scissors" or supplanted Pregnant by Mistake. Burtchaell did portray some of the excerpts in a misleading light, but the errors alone are not egregious enough to invalidate the use. The commercial elements of the use were relatively minor, and appellant was unable to advance a colorable case demonstrating harm to the market for the copyrighted work. In addition, Pregnant by Mistake was largely factual, and was out of print when Rachel Weeping was published. Finally, borrowing 4.3 percent of the words of Pregnant by Mistake was not unfair.
Accordingly, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants.
17 U.S.C.Sec. 205(d) (1982). When Maxtone-Graham published Pregnant by Mistake in 1973, the Act did not require her to record the transfers, and she claims she would have been unable to publish the book if recordation was required because she would have been forced to compromise the anonymity of the women. In view of this, the district court held that:
Rachel Weeping at 2-3.
524 F.2d at 1319. See also, Williams v. McAllister Brothers, Inc., 534 F.2d 19 (2d Cir.1976); United States v. Matheson, 532 F.2d 809 (2d Cir.1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 823, 97 S.Ct. 75, 50 L.Ed.2d 85 (1976).
S.Rep. No. 94-473, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. 64 (1965); H.R.Rep. No. 94-1476, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. 67 (1976), U.S. Code Cong. & Admin. News 1976, p. 5680.