317 F.3d 385 (4th Cir. 2003), 02-1139, Bond v. Blum

Docket Nº:02-1139, 02-1219, 02-1231, 02-1288.
Citation:317 F.3d 385
Party Name:William C. BOND, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Kenneth BLUM, Sr.; Kenneth Blum, Jr.; Dudley F.B. Hodgson; Mcdaniel, Bennett & Griffin; Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC; Christopher W. Nicholson; William Slavin, Defendants-Appellees. Page 386 William C. Bond, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC, Defendant-Appellant, and Kenneth
Case Date:January 24, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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Page 385

317 F.3d 385 (4th Cir. 2003)

William C. BOND, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Kenneth BLUM, Sr.; Kenneth Blum, Jr.; Dudley F.B. Hodgson; Mcdaniel, Bennett & Griffin; Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC; Christopher W. Nicholson; William Slavin, Defendants-Appellees.

Page 386

William C. Bond, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC, Defendant-Appellant,

and

Kenneth Blum, Sr.; Kenneth Blum, Jr.; Dudley F.B. Hodgson; McDaniel, Bennett & Griffin, Defendants.

William C. Bond, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC, Defendant-Appellee,

and

Kenneth Blum, Sr.; Kenneth Blum, Jr.;

Dudley F.B. Hodgson; McDaniel, Bennett & Griffin, Defendants.

William C. Bond, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

McDaniel, Bennett & Griffin, Defendant-Appellant,

and

Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC; Kenneth Blum, Sr.; Kenneth Blum, Jr.; Dudley F.B. Hodgson, Defendants.
Nos. 02-1139, 02-1219, 02-1231, 02-1288.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

January 24, 2003

Argued Oct. 31, 2002.

Page 387

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 389

ARGUED:

Howard J. Schulman, Schulman & Kaufman, L.L.C, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.

William Fitts Ryan, Jr., Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P., Baltimore, Maryland; Andrew Radding, Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, L.L.C, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Amy E. Askew, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P., Baltimore, Maryland; J. Andrew McKinney, Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, L.L.C, Baltimore, Maryland; Gerard P. Martin, Thy C. Pham, Martin, Snyder & Bernstein, P.A., Baltimore, Maryland; Kathiyn M. Goldman, Jiranek, Goldman & Minton, L.L.C, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.

Before NIEMEYER, WILLIAMS, and MICHAEL, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part by published opinion. Judge NIEMEYER wrote the opinion, in which Judge WILLIAMS and Judge MICHAEL joined.

OPINION

NIEMEYER, Circuit Judge.

On a motion for summary judgment filed in this copyright infringement action, the district court held that the defendants' copying of a copyrighted manuscript for introduction into evidence in a state-court child-custody proceeding constituted a "fair use" of the manuscript under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 107, when the substance of the manuscript was relevant to the issues in the child-custody proceeding and the defendants' use of the manuscript was solely for its content and not for its mode of expression. The district court also awarded attorneys fees, under 17 U.S.C § 505, to the prevailing individual defendants but not to the law-firm defendants because the law firms were represented by a member of the firm and thus were acting pro se.

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For the reasons given in this opinion, we affirm the district court's summary judgment and its award of attorneys fees to the individual defendants, and we remand for reconsideration of the law-firm defendants' motion for attorneys fees.

I

In the child-custody case of Slavin v. Slavin, commenced in July 2000 and pending in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No. 95249006/CE 201677, Alyson Slavin Bond sued her former husband, William Slavin, for exclusive custody of their three children. William Slavin filed a cross-petition for exclusive custody and, in support of his position, introduced into evidence an autobiographical manuscript written by Alyson's current husband, William Bond, to establish that the home of Alyson and William Bond would not be a suitable place for the three children. Bond's manuscript was entitled Self-Portrait of a Patricide: How I Got Away with Murder.

In June 1981, when William Bond, who was formerly known as William Rovtar, was 17, he beat his father to death with a hammer in his grandparents' garage in Bainbridge Township, Ohio. After Rovtar was arrested and detained in a juvenile detention facility in Ohio, he entered into a guilty-plea agreement in juvenile court with the result that in September 1981 he was transferred to the Sheppard & Enoch Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, for psychological treatment. Rovtar was released in 1982, and after his release, he legally changed his name to William Bond. He remained in Maryland and thereafter became employed as a tennis instructor at a country club, a bicycle salesman, and a bodyguard, among other things.

In 1987, Bond began to write Self-Portrait of a Patricide: How I Got Away with Murder, "the true story of and by William Bond," which he hoped to market to publishers for profit. The manuscript describes in horrific detail how Bond planned and committed the murder of his father with a hammer, and how his dying father attempted to raise himself off the floor of the garage before Bond delivered the final blows to his neck and head. It describes Bond wiping away his fingerprints, scrubbing the garage floor, cleaning blood, flesh, and bone from his clothes, and stuffing his father's dead body in his car's trunk. Most sinister of all, it depicts a remorseless individual who brags about fooling the police and the juvenile system to "get away scot-free" and even collecting, as planned, the money from his father's estate. Although verifiable facts of the murder are consistent with the details provided in the manuscript, Bond has now stated in an affidavit that the manuscript is "a highly fictionalized and stylized work," based on his "juvenile experience." Bond circulated his manuscript directly and through agents in order to find a publisher, asking for a seven-figure advance. His efforts, however, were unsuccessful. After some revisions, Bond also gave a copy of the manuscript to Norman Pessin, an attorney who had represented Bond in various unrelated matters, to help him get the manuscript published, but his efforts, too, failed. Although Pessin thereafter died, his widow retained a copy of the manuscript.

Bond met Alyson Slavin in early 1995, after Alyson was separated from her husband, William Slavin. Bond and Alyson continued to see each other until they married in May 2001. In 1996, shortly after Bond and Alyson met, Bond wrote a lengthy letter to Alyson's father, Kenneth Blum, Sr., indicating that he intended to marry Alyson and become the stepfather of her children. The letter offered an analysis of individual members of Blum's family and purported to offer "solutions" to correct perceived deficiencies in the

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Blum-Slavin extended family. In addition, the letter set forth an expansive financial plan, pursuant to which Bond demanded from Blum a dowry, a salary, establishment of an investment account, purchase of a studio apartment in addition to a house, and a severance package should Bond's marriage with Alyson not work out. Bond stated to Blum, "You can pay me now or pay me later." In this letter, Bond also made reference to his personal history, stating that he "had a past," and that, although it was "none of [Blum's] business," it makes "interesting reading."

Blum not only found this letter very disconcerting, considering it to be an attempt to extort money from him, but he also became concerned for the safety of Alyson and her children. In June 2000, just before the state custody action was commenced, Blum hired a private investigator, Dudley F.B. Hodgson, to look into Bond's background. At their first meeting, Blum gave Hodgson an overview of his dealings with Bond and expressed his concern over both the safety of his grandchildren and Bond's effort to "shake him down" for money. Blum gave Hodgson a copy of the letter that Bond had sent him and told Hodgson that he had heard that Bond may have had some problems with his family involving violence in Ohio.

In the course of his investigation, Hodgson learned about the murder of Bond's father and contacted the Bainbridge, Ohio police department, obtaining copies of the police report and other documents relating to the homicide investigation. Hodgson reported these findings to Blum, and at Blum's request, Hodgson went to the home of Miriam Pessin, the widow of Norman Pessin, believing that Bond had also tried to "shake Pessin down" for money before he died. When Hodgson interviewed Miriam Pessin in April 2001 and asked her if she had any information that would be helpful in his investigation of Bond, she told Hodgson that she did have, stored in a box, a loose-leaf copy of a manuscript that Bond authored. Mrs. Pessin stated that Bond had given a copy of the manuscript to her husband for him to read for the purposes of locating a publisher. She later testified that this box of materials was not part of Pessin's legal files, which he carefully kept separate, and that Bond had also given her portions of the manuscript to read. Not wanting to retain the manuscript in her home, Mrs. Pessin gave it to Hodgson. Hodgson made a copy of the manuscript and gave copies to Alyson's ex-husband, William Slavin, and the attorneys representing him in the state custody action. William Slavin's attorneys made the manuscript an exhibit during the deposition of Alyson in July 2001 and intended to make it a part of the custody litigation in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, in which a hearing was scheduled for December 10, 2001. For the sole purpose of preventing further use of the manuscript in the proceedings before the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Bond registered a copy of his manuscript with the Copyright Office in August 2001.

Immediately after registering the manuscript, Bond commenced this action for copyright infringement, naming as defendants Blum, Blum's son, Hodgson, William Slavin, and Slavin's attorneys. He requested a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the use of the manuscript by the defendants for any purpose...

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