NICHOLS v. UNIVERSAL PICTURES CORPORATION et al.
45 F.2d 119 (2d Cir. 1930)
Before L. HAND, SWAN, and AUGUSTUS N. HAND, Circuit Judges.
L. HAND, Circuit Judge.
The plaintiff is the author of a play, "Abie's Irish Rose," which it may be assumed was properly
copyrighted under section five, subdivision (d), of the Copyright Act, 17 USCA §5(d).
dant produced publicly a motion picture play, "The Cohens and The Kellys," which the plaintiff al-
leges was taken from it.
As we think the defendant's play too unlike the plaintiff's to be an in-
fringement, we may assume, arguendo, that in some details the defendant used the plaintiff's play,
as will subsequently appear, though we do not so decide.
It therefore becomes necessary to give an
outline of the two plays.
"Abie's Irish Rose" presents a Jewish family living in prosperous circumstances in New York.
The father, a widower, is in business as a merchant, in which his son and only child helps him.
boy has philandered with young women, who to his father's great disgust have always been Gen-
tiles, for he is obsessed with a passion that his daughter-in-law shall be an orthodox Jewess. When
the play opens the son, who has been courting a young Irish Catholic girl, has already married her
secretly before a Protestant minister, and is concerned to soften the blow for his father, by securing
a favorable impression of his bride, while concealing her faith and race.
To accomplish this he in-
troduces her to his father at his home as a Jewess, and lets it appear that he is interested in her,
though he conceals the marriage. The girl somewhat reluctantly falls in with the plan; the father
takes the bait, becomes infatuated with the girl, concludes that they must marry, and assumes that of
course they will, if he so decides.
He calls in a rabbi, and prepares for the wedding according to the
Meanwhile the girl's father, also a widower, who lives in California, and is as intense in his own
religious antagonism as the Jew, has been called to New York, supposing that his daughter is to
marry an Irishman and a Catholic.
Accompanied by a priest, he arrives at the house at the moment
when the marriage is being celebrated, but too late to prevent it, and the two fathers, each infuriated
by the proposed union of his child to a heretic, fall into unseemly and grotesque antics.
and the rabbi become friendly, exchange trite sentiments about religion, and agree that the match is
Apparently out of abundant caution, the priest celebrates the marriage for a third time, while
the girl's father is inveigled away.
The second act closes with each father, still outraged, seeking to
find some way by which the union, thus trebly insured, may be dissolved.
The last act takes place about a year later, the young couple having meanwhile been abjured by