16 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 85 (1984-1985)
Consumers Union of United States, Inc. v. General Signal Corp.: Commercial Free Speech and the Fair Use Doctrine of Copyright

handle is hein.journals/luclj16 and id is 95 raw text is: Notes
Consumers Union of United States, Inc. v.
General Signal Corp.: Commercial Free
Speech and the Fair Use Doctrine of
A grant of copyright in a creative work secures for its author a
limited monopoly over the use of that work.' Unauthorized copy-
ing of a work generally constitutes infringement.2 Not all copying
of an author's work, however, is deemed an infringement.' The
statutorily defined defense of fair use permits copying for purposes
such as criticism, news reporting, scholarship, and research.4
It has traditionally been held that the use of another's work for
commercial purposes is presumptively unfair.' In fact, the Copy-
1. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 106 (1982). This section sets out the exclusive rights
of the copyright owner, which include the right to reproduce copies of the work, the right
to prepare derivative works, the right to distribute copies by sale, rental, lease, or lending,
and in certain cases the right to perform the work publicly or display the work publicly.
Congress enacted the copyright statute pursuant to U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 8, which
grants Congress the power to promot(e) the progress of science and the useful arts, by
securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective
writings and discoveries.
2. 17 U.S.C. § 501 (1982) states that [a]nyone who violates any of the exclusive
rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 118, or who imports
copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer
of the copyright.
3. The Copyright Act lists several limitations on the exclusive rights of a copyright
owner, including fair use, reproduction by libraries, exemption performances and dis-
plays, secondary transmissions, and ephemeral recordings. 17 U.S.C. §§ 107-112 (1982).
4. 17 U.S.C. § 107 (1982).
5. See, e.g., Rosemont Enterprises, Inc. v. Random House, Inc., 366 F.2d 303, 309
(2d Cir. 1966), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 1009 (1967) (stating that commercial purposes do
not promote the advancement of arts or sciences); Loew's, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting
System, Inc., 131 F. Supp. 165, 174-76 (S.D. Cal. 1955), ajfd, Benny v. Loew's, Inc., 239
F.2d 532 (9th Cir. 1956), affd without an opinion by an equally divided court, 356 U.S. 43
(1958) (emphasizing the commercial nature of an infringing parody of the motion picture
Gaslight); Conde Nast Publications, Inc. v. Vogue School of Fashion Modelling, Inc.,
105 F. Supp. 325, 333 (S.D.N.Y. 1952); Henry Holt & Co. v. Liggett & Myers Tobacco
Co., 23 F. Supp. 302 (E.D. Pa. 1938) (holding that the commercial nature of defendant's
copying foreclosed him from copyright protection). The presumption was recently reaf-
firmed by the Supreme Court in Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 104 S. Ct. 774

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