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A Baltimore artist named Frederick Bouchat designed what the Baltimore Ravens adopted as their first logo, but the team used the design from 1996 to 1998 without compensating or crediting Bouchat. Bouchat successfully sued the team for copyright infringement for using his logo, and the Ravens switched to their current logo after the 1998 season.

Despite the Baltimore Ravens changing the logo design, Bouchat sued the Baltimore Ravens again, claiming that the Baltimore Ravens continued to use the original logo that he had designed after he won the first suit.  Specifically, Bouchart complained that the logo he designed still appeared in highlight reels that were played in the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium.

A United States District Court Judge dismissed the second suit filed by Bouchat on the grounds that the appearance of the Bouchat logo in highlight reels was allowable under the “fair use doctrine”.

Bouchat appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that court agreed with the lower court, saying that the “fleeting and insubstantial” appearance of the logo in the videos and photos did not amount to copyright infringement. “Society’s interest in ensuring the creation of transformative works incidentally utilizing copyrighted material is legitimate no matter who the defendant may be,” the court wrote.

What is the “fair use doctrine” and what interests are the “fair use doctrine” intended to protect?  How does the “fair use doctrine” apply to the Bouchat case?

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