In California the so-called “common law copyright” has been codified at California Civil Code sections 980 et seq. As a result of amendments to the Civil Code in 1947, “[t]he Legislature  abrogated the rule of protectibility of an idea and California now accepts the traditional theory of protectible property under common law copyright.” Weitzenkorn v. Lesser, 40 Cal. 2d 778, 789 (1953); see also Carpenter Foundation v. Oakes, 26 Cal. App. 3d 784, 793 (1972) (“A review of the pertinent sections of the Civil Code, 980 through 985, describes the rights and liabilities that inhere in what is generally referred to as ‘common-law copyright.’”).
[T]o recover for infringement, or piracy, of literary property, three elements must be established:
(1) ownership by the plaintiff of a protectible property interest;
(2) unauthorized copying of the material by the defendant; and
(3) damage resulting from the copying.
Golding v. R.K.O. Pictures, Inc., 35 Cal. 2d 690, 694 (1950); but see, e.g., Klekas v. Emi Films, 150 Cal. App. 3d 1102, 1110 (1984) (with regard to rights covered by the Federal Copyright Act, “If defendants’ [infringing] acts occurred after January 1, 1978, then the federal statute applies so as to preempt any claim plaintiff may have based upon a common law copyright theory. If, on the other hand, defendants’ unauthorized copying occurred prior to January 1, 1978, plaintiff may still pursue a claim predicated upon state law.”); and see n.2, below.
CALIFORNIA STATE COURTS
Supreme Court of California: Golding v. R.K.O. Pictures, Inc., 35 Cal. 2d 690, 694 (1950).
California 1st District: .
California 2d District: Teich v. General Mills, Inc., 170 Cal. App. 2d 791, 803 (1959); see also Spinner v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., 215 Cal. App. 4th 172, 186 (2013).
California 3d District: .
California 4th District: .
California 5th District: .
California 6th District:
CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURTS
United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: .
Central District: Meta-Film Associates, Inc. v. MCA, Inc., 586 F. Supp. 1346, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1984).
Eastern District: .
Northern District: .
Southern District: .