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Ditocco v. Riordan

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 09-20-2011
Case #: 10 Civ. 4186 (SHS)
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York; Before: Stein
Full Text Opinion: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13461229087991062015&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

Copyright: Defendant's novels and movie adaptation about a teen demigod descended from Poseidon were not substantially similar to the Plaintiffs novels about a teenage boy descended from Perseus as a matter of law.

For full opinion:
2011 U.S.Dist.Lexis 106315
2011 WL 4373943

Opinion (Stein): Robyn and Tony DiTocco (“DiTocco”) alleged that Rick Riordan and Disney Book Group, LLC (“Riordan”) infringed on their Federally copyrighted novels, The Hero Perseus and Atlas' Revenge, by publishing five Percy Jackson novels and a derivative motion picture. Riordan moved to dismiss the complaint on grounds that as a matter of law, the works were not substantially similar. The DiTocco novels involved a modern day teenager, Percy Allen, who descended from the Greek God Perseus. Riordan's novels and motion picture involved the tales of adolescent demigod Percy Jackson descended from the Greek God Poseidon. To establish a claim of copyright infringement, DiTocco had to demonstrate that Riordan copied the work and the copying was illegal because there was a substantial similarity between Riordan's work and the protectable elements of DiTocco's work. The court looked at the works in question using the ordinary lay observer test, which asks whether a lay observer who is not looking for similarities between the works would notice them. The court compared and contrasted the works in question by evaluating the narrative structure, characters, themes, setting, plot and scenes, total concept, and overall feel. The court found as a matter of law that Riordan's works were not substantially similar to DiTocco's. Riordan's motion to dismiss was GRANTED.