Remix as 'Fair Use': Grateful Dead Posters' Re-Publication Held to Be a Transformative, Fair Use

7 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2008

Date Written: March 2007


On May 9, 2006, in Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court, finding the use of several Grateful Dead Poster images appearing in a band biography was a "fair use" under section 107 of the US copyright statute. In the case, the publisher Dorling Kindersley used without permission seven images of Grateful Dead concert posters or tickets in the book Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip (2003). Prior to the book's publication, the publisher had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate permissions with the copyright holder, Bill Graham Archives. Due to what the publisher perceived as an unreasonable licensing fee, permission agreements were never reached. Nonetheless, the publisher used the seven images in the book, incorporating them into remixed compositions, consisting of collages mixed with graphic art and textual explanations and commentary. After the book's publication, Bill Graham Archives brought suit for copyright infringement, and requested an injunction blocking further publication. After conducting a careful four factor fair use analysis, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's determination in favor of fair use. While some of the pro-fair use discussions within the opinion should likely be approached with caution, the opinion does hold some useful material for educators and writing teachers. Certain guidelines might be extracted from the opinion for use by students creating new media compositions (as well as alphabetic ones), and for teachers in their pedagogies.

Keywords: Bill Graham Archives, fair use, remix, writing teachers, pedagogy, new media, four factors

Suggested Citation

Rife, Martine Courant, Remix as 'Fair Use': Grateful Dead Posters' Re-Publication Held to Be a Transformative, Fair Use (March 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Martine Courant Rife (Contact Author)

Lansing Community College ( email )

211G Arts & Sciences
Lansing, MI 48901
United States
517/4839906 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics