McGee v. André

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Copyright
  • Date Filed: 03-20-2012
  • Case #: 08-11818-DPW
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Woodcock

Copyright infringement can only occur when probative and substantial similarity are proven; copyright does not protect unoriginal work.

Opinion (Woodlock): Timothy McGee (“McGee”) pitched a treatment for a Cartoon Network show in 1997 for an animated sing-a-long series targeted at children, guest starring established musicians to be called “Music Factory.” Cartoon Network declined to run the show. McGee brought suit against Cartoon Network and Benjamin André (“André”), of noted Atlanta, GA, rap group, Outkast, for later airing André’s show, “Class of 3000,” which included similar themes. The court considered probative similarity and substantial similarity in its determination as to whether there was actual copying. In considering the probative prong, the court determined that the script and the sketches of the characters in “Music Factory” were original, but they were not the contested elements. The elements contested by McGee – idea for the show and common, unoriginal elements – were unoriginal. For example, both shows were set in Atlanta, Georgia, and were animated shows about music. The court concluded that a reasonable person would not find a protectable expression of “Music Factory” in “Class of 3000,” thus there was no substantial similarity. Accordingly, the court GRANTED the Defendant’s motion to dismiss.

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