(CN) – An amateur artist who created the original Flying B logo for the Baltimore Ravens won his copyright battle with the team after the 4th Circuit ruled that his copyright was violated by the commercial use of his image in highlight reels.
The three-judge panel reversed a Baltimore Federal Court ruling that the commercial use of the image in highlight reels were historical and “fair use.”
The panel also ruled, however, that the Ravens can use the image in a historical display in its office, because that constitutes noncommercial use.
Frederick Bouchat created the logo, which was used by the team from 1996 to 1998. He accused the team of stealing his idea, and although a jury ruled in his favor, it refused to award him the $10 million he requested.
The Ravens claimed the use of the logo on uniforms and captured in highlight reels is historical. The circuit rejected that notion.
“Simply filming football games that include the copyrighted logo does not transform the purpose behind the logo’s use into a historical one,” Judge Blane Michael wrote. “The films simply capture highlights of three Ravens seasons and necessarily portray the Flying logo as it was actually used – to identify the Ravens team.”
In his dissent, Judge Paul Niemeyer said Bouchat’s “is trying to hold the Ravens’ history hostage for ransom.” He continued: “In short, if fair use is not now recognized in the transformative use of the Flying B logo … the policy of the Copyright Act … will not only be frustrated, but the consequence of any remedy against the Ravens and the NFL will be unreasonable and unequitable.”