SCOTUS: Whoever’s on First Denied Cert

The U.S. Supreme Court will not review the copyright infringement lawsuit based on a Broadway play’s use of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First.”

“Hand to God” writer Robert Askins scripted a character to use portions of the famous duo’s comic act – for little more than a minute of the entire play.

Askins’ victory in trial and appellate court, seemingly affirmed by the Supreme Court’s denial, has been called a “vindication of artists’ rights.”

Plaintiffs, TCA Television Corp., Hi Neighbor and Diana Abbott Colton, argue that Circuit Judge Reena Raggi misinterpreted the Copyright Act of 1909 in finding no valid copyright in “Who’s on First.”While the judge did not expressly state that the act is in the public domain, the outcome makes that an implicit possibility. Without a valid copyright, there can be no infringement, so a fair use defense is unnecessary.

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