1991 Moran Abridged

1991 Moran Abridged - UNITED STATES v. DENNIS MORAN 757 F....

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1 UNITED STATES v. DENNIS MORAN 757 F. Supp. 1046 (D. Neb. 1991) RICHARD G. KOPF, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE The parties have consented to try this misdemeanor case before me. Trial was held on January 15, 1991, and briefs were received on January 23, 1991. I now find that the defendant is not guilty of the alleged willful infringement of a copyrighted video cassette in violation of 17 U.S.C. §506(a). I. FACTS Dennis Moran (Moran), the defendant, is a full-time Omaha, Nebraska, police officer and the owner of a "mom-and-pop" movie rental business which rents video cassettes of copyrighted mo- tion pictures to the public. On April 14, 1989, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a court-ordered search warrant on the premises of Moran's business. The FBI seized vari- ous video cassettes appearing to be unauthorized copies of copyrighted motion pictures, including "Bat 21," "Big," "Crocodile Dundee II," "The Fourth Protocol," "Hell-Bound: Hellraiser II," and "Mystic Pizza." The parties have stipulated that these six motion pictures are validly copyrighted motion pictures. The parties have further stipulated that each of the six motion pictures was distrib- uted to Moran, with the permission of the copyright holder, between February 1, 1989, and April 14, 1989. The parties have further stipulated that at least one of the movies identified was repro- duced by Moran onto a video cassette, without the authorization of the copyright holder, placed into inventory for rental, and subsequently rented. At the time the FBI executed the search warrant, Moran was fully cooperative. He told the FBI agents he put the "duped" copies out for rental and held the "originals" back because he feared the "original" motion pictures would be stolen or damaged. Moran told the FBI agents at the time they executed the warrant that he believed this practice was legal as long as he had purchased and was in possession of the "original" motion picture. Moran further advised the FBI agents that he would af- fix to the "duped" copies title labels for the copyrighted motion pictures and a copy of the FBI copy- right warning label commonly found on video cassette tapes. Moran [*1048] advised the FBI agents that he put the title labels and FBI warning on the tapes to stop customers from stealing or duplicat- ing the tapes. Moran testified at trial. He indicated that he had been employed as an Omaha, Nebraska, police officer for approximately twenty-two-and-a-half years, including service as a narcotics investigator and as a bodyguard to the mayor of the city of Omaha. Moran has a reputation for honesty among his associates. Moran testified that he began to "insure" copyrighted video cassettes, meaning that he dupli- cated copyrighted video cassettes which he had validly purchased from distributors, when he real- ized copyrighted tapes were being vandalized. Moran testified he was under the impression that "in- suring" tapes was legal whereas "pirating" tapes was not. For practical purposes, Moran defined "in-
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This note was uploaded on 01/13/2012 for the course LAW 33800A taught by Professor Williamfisher during the Fall '10 term at Harvard.

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1991 Moran Abridged - UNITED STATES v. DENNIS MORAN 757 F....

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