Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Copyright Claims Asserted Against Firm's Client

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the dismissal of copyright claims asserted against the firm's client, Best Buy in a claim arising from its production of various faux movie trailers.  Identity Arts, LLC v. Best Buy Enter. Serv., Inc., 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 6797 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2009).  In 2004, Best Buy produced cell phone courtesy messages displayed in movie theatres across the United States as part of Best Buy's "Silence is Golden" campaign.  These courtesy messages were based on the concept of a faux movie trailer where a ringing cell phone interrupts the dramatic high point of the trailer and the audience is then asked to turn off their cell phones before the movie starts.  In affirming, the Ninth Circuit concluded that Best Buy did not infringe because, although the works shared a similar concept (faux movie trailers interrupted by a ringing cell phone), the actual expressive elements of the works were not substantially similar.  Separately, the Northern District of California awarded Best Buy attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $108,000 pursuant to Section 505 of the Copyright Act.