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In plaintiff's copyright infringement action against defendant who had hired him to take photos of the "Thomas & Friends" toy train characters for use in promotions, district court's dismissal of his complaint is reversed where: 1) the photos qualify for the limited derivative-work copyright provided by section 103(b) as plaintiff's artistic and technical choices combine to create a two-dimensional image that is subtly but nonetheless sufficiently his own; and 2) district court erred in concluding that plaintiff needed defendant's permission to copyright the photos, as there is nothing in the Copyright Act requiring the author of a derivative work to obtain permission to copyright his work from the owner of the copyright in the underlying work.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Eastern Division
Decided November 5, 2009
Opinion by Sykes, Circuit Judge