The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweet, J., U.S.D.J.
Defendants A&E Television Networks ("A&E") and Weller/Grossman
Productions, Inc. ("Weller/Grossman") have moved for summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.56 to dismiss the complaint of plaintiff Susan
Nicholas Hofheinz ("Hofheinz") alleging copyright infringement of the
film "It Conquered the World", portions of which were used in a biography
of Peter Graves, aired on A&E. Because there is no genuine dispute as to
the material facts in this case and the footage used in the A&E biography
constitutes "fair use" under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 107, the
motion is granted.
Parties and Prior Proceedings A&E is a cable network, supplying a 24
hour schedule of programming to cable and satellite operators, who in
turn supply the programming to their subscribers. A&E's programs consist
of documentaries, off-network dramatic productions and original motion
pictures. It derives its revenues largely from advertisers and fees
charged for cable operator licenses.
Weller/Grossman is a California-based production company that produces
documentaries, biographies and historical programs.
Weller/Grossman produced the biography of Peter Graves which was aired
by A&E giving rise to this action.
Susan Hofheinz owns the copyright to the 1956 science fiction film, "It
Conquered the World". "It Conquered the World" stars Peter Graves in one
of his earliest Hollywood performances as well as Beverly Garland, Lee
Van Cleef and Beulah, the monster.
The movie was produced by American International Pictures, whose
principals were James Nicholson and Sam Arkoff. Mr. Nicholson is the late
husband of Ms. Hofheinz.
The complaint in this action alleging infringement of the copyright in
"It Conquered the World," by the defendants in producing and airing the
biography of Peter Graves was filed on January 8, 2000. The instant
motion was heard and marked fully submitted on March 28, 2001.
The facts are derived from the parties' Rule 56.1 submissions and are
On April 4, 1997, defendant A&E broadcast to its cable licensees, as
part of its "Biography" series, the program, "Peter Graves: Mission
Accomplished," a biography of the actor Peter Graves. The program was an
hour long (with commercials) and produced by defendant Weller/Grossman.
Each of A&E's "Biography" programs deals with the life of some famous
or well-known person, usually someone prominent in history, politics,
business or the arts. The series has a narrator-host, either Jack Perkins
or Peter Graves, and develops and treats the life of its subject through
comment and brief interviews with persons who knew or have written about
The visual content of the series often includes photographs, film and
audio-visual material when available.
The subject program, "Peter Graves: Mission Accomplished" is a
biography. It was produced for a wide commercial audience and for
profit, but a work that treats as its subject the life of a well-known
television and motion picture actor. The Peter Graves biography is
approximately 44 minutes long (60 minutes with commercials) and covers the
formative years of his life and his career as a television and screen
actor. The program narrator is "Biography" host Jack Perkins and Graves
himself, members of his family and professional colleagues review the
major achievements of his life. The program devotes considerable
attention to Graves' work, starting with an account of his earliest
efforts as a stage actor in college, moving through his first Hollywood
films in the 1950's, his recognized performance in "Stalag 17" and then
on to his television career in "Fury" and ultimately to "Mission
Impossible," the motion picture "Airplane," and Graves as host of A&E's
"Biography." Film clips and short pieces of videotape of ...