This Comment analyzes the potentially damaging impact the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Towle could have on modern copyright law and the First Amendment. Part I will provide an overview of modern copyright law, challenges faced when deciding the level of protection that should be afforded to characters, and the important difference between literary characters and visually depicted characters and how it can affect the degree of protection allowed. Part II will discuss the history of character copyright, specifically, the different tests adopted by circuit courts and the impact each one has on the protection of characters. Part III will analyze the Ninth Circuit’s decision to create a new three-part test in Towle, its negative impact on modern copyright law, the dangerous implications of protecting microworks, and the effect on First Amendment protections. Finally, Part IV will provide a proposal to create a new copyright test for characters and limitations on the broad application of copyright protection in all aspects of copyright law.
The Hollywood Circuit’s Protection of the Batmobile Provides an Uncertain Future for First Amendment Protections,
14 J. Bus. Entrepreneurship & L.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/jbel/vol14/iss1/6