Mazer v. Stein
|Mazer v. Stein|
|Argued December 3, 1953|
Decided March 8, 1954
|Full case name||Mazer v. Stein|
|Citations||347 U.S. 201 (more)|
74 S. Ct. 460; 98 L. Ed. 630
|Prior||Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit|
|Copyright may extend to mass-produced items, even though just the aesthetic form, not the mechanical or utilitarian aspects.|
|Majority||Reed, joined by Warren, Frankfurter, Jackson, Burton, Clark, Minton|
|Concurrence||Douglas, joined by Black|
Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201 (1954), was a copyright case decided by the United States Supreme Court. In an opinion written by Justice Stanley F. Reed, the Supreme Court held that the statuettes—male and female dancing figures made of semivitreous china—used as bases for fully equipped electric lamps were copyrightable, even though the lamp itself was a utilitarian mass-produced item.
The case is notable for the quotation, "Unlike a patent, a copyright gives no exclusive right to the art disclosed; protection is given only to the expression of the idea—not the idea itself." 347 U.S. at 217 (citing F. W. Woolworth Co. v. Contemporary Arts, 193 F.2d 162; Ansehl v. Puritan Pharmaceutical Co., 61 F.2d 131; Fulmer v. United States, 122 Ct. Cl. 195, 103 F.Supp. 1021; Muller v. Triborough Bridge Authority, 43 F.Supp. 298.)
Congress incorporated the Mazer decision into the Copyright Act of 1976 as the concept of separability. For many years, there was confusion over how to determine separability, so tests proliferated and competed against one another. The Supreme Court addressed this issue in the 2017 case Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. and created a canonical test for separability.
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 347
- Idea–expression divide
- Star Athletica, L. L. C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. - 2017 case to determine when a "pictorial, graphic, or sculptural feature" incorporated into a useful article is eligible for copyright protection
- Handler, S. P. (1971). "Copyright Protection for Mass-Produced, Commercial Products: A Review of the Developments Following Mazer v. Stein". University of Chicago Law Review. 38 (4): 807–825. JSTOR 1598873.
- Hauhart, Robert C. (1983). "The Eternal Wavering Line – The Continuing Saga of Mazer v. Stein". Hamline L. Rev. 6: 95.
- Latman, Alan (1968). "Fifteen Years after Mazer v. Stein: A Brief Perspective". Bull. Copyright Soc'y U.S.A. 16: 278.