The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a decision that Penguin Group USA violated the copyright of Stuart Silverstein when it copied poems by Dorothy Parker that were compiled by Silverstein for use in Penguin's Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems.
In his ruling handed down last April, U.S. District Court Judge John Keenan found that by copying Parker's poems that had been published in Silverstein's Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker, Penguin had violated Silverstein's copyright.
Despite the favorable ruling, Penguin has no immediate plans to reissue Complete Poems. Its hesitation stems from the fact that the appeals court ordered Keenan to hear new arguments about whether Silverstein had done enough work to qualify for copyright protection. In a prepared statement, Penguin said that it is "confident" that further proceedings will "establish conclusively" that Silverstein does not have any rights in Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems.
In his original ruling, Keenan found that by organizing the uncollected poems of Parker into his own book, Silverstein had shown enough creativity to qualify for copyright protection under the compilation copyright doctrine, or so-called "thin copyright." The appeals court questioned if the work Silverstein did in assembling the poems was indeed sufficient to provide him with copyright protection.
No court date had been set to begin the re-hearing by press time last week.