Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hula Decision

I mentioned last month a copyright lawsuit in Hawaii by photographer Kim Taylor Reece over a stained-glass artwork he thought infringed one of his photographs of a hula dancer. Round one has now gone to the defendants: on Friday, the District Court denied Reece's request for a preliminary injunction.

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

"[District Court Judge Michael] Seabright said that while the dancers in both pieces appear to have the same poses, they are depicting a traditional hula movement that is in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted. ... Seabright said the backgrounds of the two pieces are different, and because they are in different media, the feelings they evoke are also different. He also found that the dancers' body positions, even though they are performing the same movement, are not identical. Their hair and attire, including their leis, are also not identical, Seabright said."

I was skeptical of the claim, on just these grounds, in my earlier post.