Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc.

Feltner V. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc.

Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc.

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Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., 523 U.S. 340 (1998), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, deciding, where there is to be an award of statutory damages in a copyright infringement case, if there is a right to demand a jury trial.

C. Elvin Feltner, Jr., and the corporation he owns, Krypton International Corporation, operate 3 television stations which ran various television shows licensed from Columbia Pictures, including Who's the Boss?, Silver Spoons, Hart to Hart, and T. J. Hooker. After becoming delinquent in royalty payments, and being unable to resolve the impasse over the debt owed, Columbia revoked their license to run the shows. The stations kept running them anyway. Columbia sued Feltner, Krypton and some subsidiaries and executives of the corporation. The trial court found the infringement to be wilful, and denied Feltner's request for a jury trial on statutory damages. The court found every broadcast of every episode run on every television station to be a separate infringement, awarded the statutory maximum of $20,000 for each of the 440 acts, for a total of $8,800,000 in damages.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the award.

The Supreme Court examined the statute in an attempt to resolve the issue without reaching constitutional issues. It found that there is no provision in the statute for a jury trial on the issue of statutory...
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