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Jury verdicts and Court judgments
against Urantia Foundation
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United States District Court

Western District of Oklahoma

Notice of Order or Judgments
Fed R. Civ. P. 77 (d)

Date/Time: Tuesday, Aug 14, 2001 06:44PM
To: ROSS A PLOURDE
MCAFEE & TAFT

Re: 5:00-CV-0'85, DOC: 221, QUE ID: 308232

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC
a Foreign Corporation,
Plaintiff and Defendant-in-Counterclaim,

v.

URANTIA FOUNDATION,
an
Illinois Charitable Trust,
Defendant and Counterclaimant,

-AND-

URANTIA FOUNDATION,
Counterclaimant and Third-Party Plaintiff,

v.

HARRY McMULLAN III,
a citizen of Oklahoma,
Third-Party Defendant,

and MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Defendant-in-Counterclaim.

Case No. CIV-00-885-W

AMENDED JUDGMENT

AUG 14 2001

This action came on for trial before the Court and a jury, Honorable Lee R West, Senior District Judge, presiding, certain issues having been resolved by compromise and settlement, and the remaining issues having been duly tried and the jury having duly rendered its verdict, the Court ORDERS that JUDGMENT IS ENTERED 1) in favor of Michael Foundation on its claim of copyright invalidity against Urantia Foundation, 2) in favor of Michael Foundation on Urantia Foundation's counter-claim of copyright infringement and 3) in favor of Harry McMullan, III on Urantia Foundation's third-party claim of contributory copyright infringement. The Court further ORDERS and ADJUDGES that the
United States registered copyright renewal (No. RE-384) held by the Urantia Foundation on The Urantia Book is invalid and unenforceable and that Michael Foundation and Harry McMullan, III be awarded their costs with respect to the copyright portion of this suit.

ENTERED this 14th day of August, 2001.

LEE R. WEST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

ENTERED ON JUDGMENT DOCKET ON
8-14-01


United States District Court

Western District of Oklahoma

Notice of Order or Judgments
Fed R- CIV. P. 77 (d)

Date/Time: Tuesday, Aug 14, 2001 06:39PM
To: ROSS A PLOURDE
MCAFEE & TAFT

Re: 5:00-CV-885, DOC: 220, QUE ID: 38222

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Plaintiff and Defendant-in-Counterclaim,

v.

URANTIA FOUNDATION,
an Illinois Charitable Trust,
Defendant and Counterclaimant,

-AND-

URANTIA FOUNDATION,

Counterclaimant and Third-Party Plaintiff,

v.

HARRY McMULLAN III,
a citizen of Oklahoma,
Third-Party Defendant,

and MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Defendant-In-Counterclaim.

Case No. CIV-00-885-W

ORDER

Before the Court is Urantia Foundation's Motion to Amend Judgment filed on
July 6, 2001. The motion seeks to have the Court amend its Judgment of June 21, 2001. Michael Foundation opposes the motion and filed an opposition brief on August 3, 2001.

Urantia Foundation seeks to amend the judgment in three ways. First, Urantia Foundation argues that this Court's judgment does not, and should not, affect Urantia Foundation's Canadian copyright in The Urantia Book. In support of this argument, Urantia Foundation states that the Canadian copyright on The Urantia Book is in no way affected by this Court's holding that the
U.S. registered copyright renewal (No. RL-384) is invalid and unenforceable. Michael Foundation argues that the Court should take no position with respect to any effect that the invalidation may have on any Canadian copyright. The Court finds the positions of the parties are consistent with each other-, therefore, the Court agrees with both parties on this issue. The Canadian copyright was not before this Court and the Court takes no position with respect to any effect the invalidation of the United States registered copyright renewal (No RE-394) may have on copyrights in other countries. Accordingly, the Court finds the Judgment should be amended to reflect that only the United States registered copyright renewal (No. RE-384) has been held invalid and unenforceable.

Urantia. Foundation's second argument is that the "Contents of the Book" section of The Urantia Book is separately copyrightable. Urantia Foundation argues the Court should amend its judgment to exclude the "Contents of the Book" from the judgment of invalidity. The issue of whether or not the "Contents of the Book" could be independently copyrighted was not before the Court. In fact, the Court has specifically stated that it would not take a position on the separate copyrightability of the "Contents of the Book." Summary Judgment Order n. 9. Therefore, the Court declines to modify its Judgment to exclude the "Contents of the Book" from the judgment holding the
United States registered copyright renewal (No. RE-3 84) to be invalid and unenforceable. The Court continues to take no position as to whether the "Contents of the Book" may be independently copyrighted.

Urantia Foundation's final argument is that because the judgment only affected the English version of The Urantia Book, the judgment has no effect on the copyrights held on translations of The Urantia Book. This issue was not before the Court. Therefore., the Court takes no position as to whether the judgment of invalidity of the
United States registered copyright renewal (No. RE-394) has any effect on the copyrights held on translations or other derivative works.

For the reasons stated more fully above, the Court:

1. DENIES the motion to amend judgment to the extent Urantia Foundation seeks to amend the judgment to exclude the "Contents of the Book" from the holding of invalidity; and

2. DENIES this motion to amend judgment to the extent the Urantia Foundation seeks an amendment stating the judgment of invalidity does not affect copyrights held on translations and other derivative works; and

3. GRANTS the motion to amend judgment to the extent the judgment should be amended to state that only the United States registered copyright renewal (No. RE-384) has been held invalid and unenforceable.

A judgment in accordance with this order shall issue forthwith,

ENTERED this 14th day of August, 2001.

LEE R. WEST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


United States District Court

Western District of Oklahoma

Notice of Order or Judgments
Fed R. Civ. P. 77 (d)

Date/Time: Tuesday, Aug 14, 2001 06:32PM

To:  ROSS A PLOURDE
MCAFEE & TAFT

Re: 5:00-CV-8085, DOC: 219, QUE ID: 38212

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Plaintiff and Defendant-in-Counterclaim,

v.

URANTIA FOUNDATION,
an Illinois Charitable Trust,
Defendant and Counterclaimant,

-AND-

URANTIA FOUNDATION,
Counterclaimant and Third Party Plaintiff,

v.

HARRY McMULLAN III,
a citizen of Oklahoma,
Third Party Defendant,

and MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Defendant- in-Counterclaim.

Case No. CIV-00-885-W

ORDER

Before the Court is Urantia Foundation's Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict filed on
July 6, 2001. The motion seeks to have the Court to set aside the verdict and enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of Urantia Foundation. Michael Foundation Inc. ("Michael Foundation") opposes the motion and filed an opposition brief on August 3, 2001.

This matter was tried before a jury in June, 2001. At the close of the evidence, each party moved for judgment as a matter of law in their favor. All such motions were denied at that time. The case was submitted to the Jury and a verdict was duly rendered. The Jury found that the copyright held by Urantia Foundation on The Urantia Book was invalid; the Jury also found against Urantia Foundation on both its claim of copyright infringement against Michael Foundation and its claim of contributory copyright infringement against Harry McMullan, III ("McMullan"). The Court entered judgment in this case on June 21, 2001.

Urantia Foundation's current motion is made pursuant to Fed R. Civ. P. 50(b). Rule 50(b) allows a party who has previously moved for judgment as a matter of law at the close of the evidence to renew its motion within ten days after entry of judgment. Judgment as a matter of law is appropriate "only if the evidence points but one way and is susceptible to no reasonable inferences which may support the opposing party's position." Tyler v. RE/MAX Mountain States, Inc., 232 F.3d 808, 812 (10th Cir. 2000) (citing Finley v.
United States, 82 F.3d 966, 968 (10th Cir. 1996)). In reviewing the motion, a court must review all the evidence in the record, construe the evidence and inferences most favorably to the nonmoving party, and refrain from making credibility determinations and weighing evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prod., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).

Urantia Foundation makes two main arguments. Urantia Foundation's first argument is that, as a matter of law, The Urantia Book is a commissioned work. In arguing that The Urantia Book is a commissioned work, Urantia Foundation argues that The Urantia Book meets the test for a commissioned work because 1) it was created at the insistence and expense of the Contact Commission, 2) the Contact Commission had the right to control and supervise the creation of the work, and 3) Urantia Foundation had registered the copyright. In addition, Urantia Foundation asserts that Michael Foundation and McMullan failed to show that the Subject intended to retain rights in the works and that the destruction of the original manuscripts does not refute the existence of a commissioning relationship.

The Court addresses each of issues relating to a commissioned work in turn. In addressing Urantia Foundation's insistence and expense argument, Michael Foundation argues that a wealth of evidence was presented at trial to show that the Subject was the one who initiated the Urantia Papers and that the Contact Commission did little to fund the original creation of the work. Specifically, the Subject was not compensated for his role in creating The Urantia Book. While payment is not the determinative factor in determining whether a commissioning relationship exists, it is a factor that is closely examined. See e.g., Forward v. Thorogood, 985 F.2d 604, 606 (1st Cir. 1993)

As to the issue of control, Michael Foundation argues that the evidence presented at trial shows that the Contact Commission exercised no actual control over the creation process. Specifically, evidence was presented to show that while the Contact Commission asked questions of the Subject, it had no control as to I ) how the questions were answered or 2) the format of the responses. Urantia Foundation argues that the test is not whether the Contact Commission exercised control, but whether it had the right to exercise control.
Murray v. Gelderman, 566 F.2d 1307, 1310 (5th Cir. 1978). The Court finds that even if the evidence is examined under the Murray test, there is sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that the Contact Commission could not exercise control over the process.

Michael Foundation next addresses Urantia Foundation's argument that the copyright registration certificate is prima facie proof that The Urantia Book is a commissioned work. Michael Foundation argues that once evidence is presented to rebut the prima facie case of validity, the burden shifts back to the copyright owner. Gardenia Flowers, Inc. v. Joseph Markovits, Inc., 280 F.Supp. 776, 781 (S.D.N.Y. 1968). Michael Foundation points to the stipulation that the Subject authored the book and the fact that the Urantia Foundation did not exist as an entity as proof offered to rebut the presumption of validity. In addition, as previously stated, evidence was presented to show that Urantia Foundation did not 1) Initiate the process of creating the work, 2) expend funds to create the work, or 3) have the ability to control the work. Michael Foundation argues that this evidence is sufficient to rebut the copyright registration's presumption of validity.

Michael Foundation next responds to Urantia Foundation's argument that when evidence of a commissioning relationship has been shown, the burden falls on the independent contractor to establish that a contrary agreement had been reached. Playboy, Enterprises, Inc. v. Dumas, 53 F.3d 549. 554-55 (2nd Cir. 1995). In the present case, sufficient evidence was presented to enable a jury to find that no commissioning relationship existed. Therefore, Michael Foundation and McMullan did not have to prove that the Subject reached an agreement to retain rights to his work.

Urantia Foundation's final argument with respect to commissioned works is that Michael Foundation should not benefit from any negative inference drawn from the destruction of the original manuscripts of the Urantia Papers. The Court has reviewed this argument along with the others presented by Urantia Foundation and finds that ample evidence was presented to support the jury's finding that The Urantia Book was not a commissioned work or work for hire. Having viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving, party, and finding that reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence could reasonably support the jury's verdict, the Court finds that judgment as a matter of law should not be granted to Urantia Foundation on the issue of commissioned works or works for hire.

Urantia Foundation's second main argument is that The Urantia Book, as a matter of law, is a composite work. In support of its argument, Urantia Foundation claims that 1) The Urantia Book is a composite presentation of 196 separate papers, 2) The Urantia Book is an encyclopedic work, and 3) the Contact Commission selected and arranged material. Michael Foundation disputes these claims and asserts that evidence was presented to show that The (Urantia Book was a united literary work and that, because The Urantia Book's not a collection of separate works, it cannot qualify as an encyclopedia. 17 U.S.C, 101 (stating that an encyclopedia is an example of a collective Work). Michael Foundation disputes Urantia Foundation's final assertion by pointing to evidence in the record showing that the Contact Commission did not arrange or select any of the material that makes up The Urantia Book. Upon review of the record, and having viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the Court finds that judgment as a matter of law should not be granted to Urantia Foundation on the issue of composite works.

For the reasons stated more fully above, the Court DENIES Urantia Foundation's Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.

ENTERED this 14th day of August, 2001.

LEE R. WEST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC...
a Foreign Corporation,
Plaintiff and Defendant-in-Counterclaim,

v.

URANTlA FOUNDATION,
an
Illinois Charitable Trust,
Defendant and Counterclaimant,

-AND-

URANTlA FOUNDATION,
Counterclaimant and Third-Party Plaintiff,

v.

HARRY McMULLAN III,
a citizen of
Oklahoma,
Third-Party Defendant,

and MICHAEL FOUNDATION, INC.,
a Foreign Corporation,
Defendant-in-Counterclaim,

Case No. CTV-00-885-W

ORDER

Before the Court Is Urantia Foundation's Alternative Motion for a New Trial filed on
July 6, 2001. The motion for new trial is opposed by Michael Foundation, Inc. ("Michael Foundation") which flied an opposition brief on August 3, 2001

In its motion Urantia Foundation seeks to have the Court order a new trial pursuant to Fed, R.Civ.P. 59. A trial court may grant a new trial when 1) the jury's verdict is against the great weight of the evidence, 2) an error is made in the decision to prevent the admission of evidence, or 3) when an erroneous instruction is given to the jury . Montgomery Ward & Co. v.
Duncan, 311 U.S. 243, 251 (1940). Urantia Foundation claims that all three circumstances are present in this case.

First. Urantia. Foundation argues that the jury verdict finding that The Urantia Book was not a commissioned work was against the great weight of the evidence. Where a new trial motion asserts that the jury verdict is not supported by the evidence, "the verdict must stand unless it is clearly, decidedly, or overwhelmingly against the weight of the evidence.'" York v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 95 F.3d 949, 958 (10th Cir. 1996) (quoting Black v. Hieb's Enters., Inc., 805 F.2d 360, 363(l0th Cir. 1986))- When reviewing the jury's verdict, the Court must consider the record evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party. See Koch v. City of
Hutchinson, 814 F. 2d 1489, 1496 (10th Cir. 1987).

In support of its assertion that the jury verdict was against the great weight of the evidence, Urantia Foundation incorporates the arguments from its Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding Verdict filed on July 6, 2001. In essence, Urantia Foundation argues that the great weight of the evidence supported a finding that The Urantia Book was both a commissioned work and a composite work. In addition to the arguments presented in its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, Urantia Foundation argues that testimony given by Urantia Foundation's own witnesses that The Urantia Book was a unified literary work rather than a composite work should be given less weight because their testimony was based on spiritual belief The Court finds that ample evidence was presented at trial to support the jury's verdict that The Urantia Book was neither a commissioned work nor a composite work. Because when viewing the evidence in the light most, favorable to the nonmoving party the Court cannot find that the jury's verdict on the issues of commissioned and composite works were against the great weight of the evidence, the Court denies Urantia Foundation's motion for new trial on this ground.

Urantia Foundation next argues that the Court's exclusion of Barbara Newsom's testimony warrants a new trial. The improper admission or exclusion of evidence is grounds for a new trial if the substantial rights of the parties were affected. Fed.R.Civ.P. 61; Herndon v. Seven Bar Flying Service, Inc., 716 F.2d 1322, t 326 (10th Cir. 1983). Urantia Foundation asserts that the Court should have allowed Ms. Newsom to testify about the contents of Dr. Sadler's private journals. The Court, having reexamined the arguments made at trial and in the briefs, finds the testimony of Barbara Newsom was properly excluded. Therefore the Court reaffirms its earlier decision to exclude Ms, Newsom's testimony and declines to order a new trial on this ground.

Urantia Foundation finally argues that the Court erred in its instructions to the jury. In the Tenth Circuit, a district court's decision whether to give a particular instruction is within its sound discretion. Allen v, Minnstar, 97 F 3d 13765, 1368 (10th Cir. 1996). As to the instructions as a whole, the court must provide correct statements of the -governing law and provide the jury with ample understanding of the issues and applicable standards.
Id. Urantia Foundation argues the Court abused its discretion when it instructed the jury with respect to Instruction No. 26 - Composite Definition. Specifically, Urantia Foundation contends that the Court erred by 1) stating that the intent of the author was a controlling element in determining whether a work was a composite work, and 2) giving examples of works that were not composite works while excluding Urantia Foundation's suggested examples of works that were composite works.

As to the first contention, the court finds that the instruction was not in error. Urantia Foundation's argument takes the "intent of the author is controlling" language out of context. The composite definition included a section stating the relevant law on composite works by a single author; only in this context of a single author composite work does the instruction state the intent of the author is controlling. While the law on single author composite works is sparse, the legislative history of the Copyright Act supports the assertion that discrete writings of a single author may be combined to form a collective work. H.Rep. p. 122. For a writing to be discrete, the author must have intended that each work included in the composite work be able to stand alone. The intent requirement for joint works is a separate issue entirely; Urantia Foundation's argument on this point merely confuses the issue. Michael Foundation is correct in that the only relation between the joint works and collective works is that the intent of the author distinguishes between the two. If the author intends his work to be "merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole," the work is a joint work, 17 U.S.C. 101, if the author intends the work to stand alone, the work can be included with others to form a composite work.

Urantia Foundation's argument that the Court should have simply given the definition as stated in the statute is unpersuasive. The statutory definition, states that "[a] 'collective work' is a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole." 17 U.&C. 101. Simply stating this definition would have been misleading to the jury. It is unclear from the language of the statute that a collective work (Footnote (1)) could consist of separate works from only one author. Additional explanation was needed to clarify the meaning of the term for the jury. Therefore, the Court finds, that when. taken in context, the instruction on the definition of composite works states the applicable law and that a new trial is not warranted on this basis.

(Footnote (1) As stated in the Jury Instruction No. 26 - Composite Definition, the terms "collective work" and "composite work" are synonymous for the purposes of this case.)

As to Urantia Foundation's second contention, the Court finds that the exclusion of examples of composite works was appropriate. The examples given in the definition of "Collective works" might have been confusing to the jury. The bulk of Instruction No, 26 - Composite Definition is devoted to defining what a composite work is: the Court's inclusion of examples taken from the legislative history to show what composite works are not was intended to give balance to the instruction Taken as a whole, the Court finds that Instruction No. 26 -Composite Definition was properly given and that Urantia Foundation's motion for a new trial on this basis should be denied.

For the reasons stated more fully above, the Court:

1. DENIES the motion for new trial on the ground that the jury verdict was against the great weight of the evidence;

2. DENIES the motion for new trial on the ground that the testimony of Barbara Newsom was improperly excluded; and

3. DENIES the motion for new trial on the ground that the Court improperly instructed the jury with respect to composite works.

ENTERED this 14th day of August, 2001.

LEE R. WEST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE