Seltzer v. Green Day, Inc., et al.

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Justia Opinion Summary
Plaintiff filed suit against Green Day and others, alleging violations of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1051 et seq., because Green Day used plaintiff's illustration, "Scream Icon," in the video backdrop of its stage show. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Green Day on all claims and the grant of attorney's fees to Green Day under the Copyright Act. The court concluded that Green Day's use of the illustration was fair use under the Copyright Act where the purpose and character of the use was transformative and not overly commercial; the nature of the work included its status as a widely disseminated work of street art; Green Day's use of the work was not excessive in light of its transformative purpose; and Green Day's use did not affect the value of the piece or of plaintiff's artwork in general. In regards to plaintiff's claims under the Lanham Act, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to establish any trademark rights. The court concluded, however, that the district court clearly erred in finding that plaintiff's claims were objectively unreasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment but vacated the award of attorneys fees.
Court Description: Copyright / Fair Use. The panel affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendants but vacated the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees in an artist’s action alleging violations of the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act in a rock band’s unauthorized use of an illustration in the video backdrop of its stage show. The panel held that the video backdrop was a fair use under the Copyright Act. First, the purpose and character of the use was transformative because the video altered the expressive content or message of the illustration, and the use was not overly commercial. Second, the illustration was a creative work, but its nature included its status as a widely disseminated work of street art. Third, the defendants copied most of the illustration, but it was not meaningfully divisible. Fourth, the video backdrop did not affect the value of the illustration. The panel affirmed the grant of summary judgment on Lanham Act claims on the basis that the artist failed to establish any trademark rights. Vacating the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees to the defendants under the Copyright Act, the panel held that, despite the defendants’ success on the fair use defense, the plaintiff did not act objectively unreasonably.
Download PDF FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT DERECK SELTZER, Plaintiff-Appellant, No. 11-56573 v. D.C. No. 2:10-cv-02103PSG-PLA GREEN DAY , INC., a corporation; GREEN DAY TOURING , INC., a corporation; GREEN DAY , a partnership; BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG , an individual; FRANK EDWIN WRIGHT , III, an individual, AKA Tre Cool; MICHAEL RYAN PRITCHARD , an individual, AKA Dirnt Mike; WARNER BROS. RECORDS, INC., a corporation; INFECT PRODUCTIONS, a partnership; ROGER STAUB, an individual; PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN , a business entity (form unknown), Defendants-Appellees. 2 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. DERECK SELTZER, Plaintiff-Appellant, No. 11-57160 v. D.C. No. 2:10-cv-02103PSG-PLA GREEN DAY , INC., a corporation; GREEN DAY TOURING , INC., a corporation; GREEN DAY , a partnership; BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG , an individual; FRANK EDWIN WRIGHT , III, an individual, AKA Tre Cool; MICHAEL RYAN PRITCHARD , an individual, AKA Dirnt Mike; WARNER BROS. RECORDS, INC., a corporation; INFECT PRODUCTIONS, a partnership; ROGER STAUB, an individual; PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN , a business entity (form unknown), Defendants-Appellees. OPINION Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Philip S. Gutierrez, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted February 5, 2013â Pasadena, California Filed August 7, 2013 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 3 Before: Diarmuid F. Oâ Scannlain, Stephen S. Trott, and Richard R. Clifton, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Oâ Scannlain SUMMARY* Copyright / Fair Use The panel affirmed the district courtâ s summary judgment in favor of the defendants but vacated the district courtâ s award of attorneysâ fees in an artistâ s action alleging violations of the Copyright Act and the Lanham Act in a rock bandâ s unauthorized use of an illustration in the video backdrop of its stage show. The panel held that the video backdrop was a fair use under the Copyright Act. First, the purpose and character of the use was transformative because the video altered the expressive content or message of the illustration, and the use was not overly commercial. Second, the illustration was a creative work, but its nature included its status as a widely disseminated work of street art. Third, the defendants copied most of the illustration, but it was not meaningfully divisible. Fourth, the video backdrop did not affect the value of the illustration. * This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. 4 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. The panel affirmed the grant of summary judgment on Lanham Act claims on the basis that the artist failed to establish any trademark rights. Vacating the district courtâ s award of attorneysâ fees to the defendants under the Copyright Act, the panel held that, despite the defendantsâ success on the fair use defense, the plaintiff did not act objectively unreasonably. COUNSEL William Nathan Canby, Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, LLP, Beverly Hills, California argued the cause and filed a brief for the appellant. With him on the briefs were Todd W. Bonder and Ryan M. Lapine, Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman, LLP, Beverly Hills, California. Peter J. Anderson, Law Offices of Peter J. Anderson, a P.C., Santa Monica, CA, argued the cause and filed a brief for appellees. With him on the briefs were Bruce Isaacs, Wyman & Isaacs, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, and Lee S. Brenner and Keri E. Campbell, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Los Angeles, CA. OPINION Oâ SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judge: We must decide whether a rock bandâ s unauthorized use of an artistâ s illustration in the video backdrop of its stage show was a â fair useâ under copyright law. SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 5 I A Plaintiff Derek Seltzer is an artist and illustrator. In 2003, he created Scream Icon, a drawing of a screaming, contorted face. Seltzer made copies of Scream Icon, including large posters and smaller prints with adhesive backs, which he has sold and given away. See Appendix A. Many Scream Icon posters have been plastered on walls as street art in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Since then, Seltzer has moved on to other projects, but at times he has used Scream Icon to identify himself and his workâ s presence by placing it on advertisements for his gallery appearances, and at some point he licensed it for use in a music video. Defendant Roger Staub is a photographer and professional set-lighting and video designer. In 2008, Staub photographed a brick wall at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Gardner Avenue in Los Angeles which was covered in graffiti and postersâ including a weathered and torn copy of Scream Icon. See Appendix B. Staub found it â interestingâ and saved this picture in his personal library. Defendant Green Day is a rock band, and defendants Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Pritchard, and Frank Wright are its musicians. Green Day has sold over 70 million records worldwide since its debut in 1987. In May of 2009, Green Day released its eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown. In anticipation of the 2009â 10 tour in support of this album, Green Day engaged defendant Performance Environment Design (â PEDâ ) to create the lighting, pyrotechnic effects, and video backdrops for the concert. 6 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. Subsequently, PED arranged for Staub to create the video backdrops for Green Dayâ s performances. B Staub created a video backdrop for each of the thirty-two songs on Green Dayâ s set list. Before making these backdrops, Staub repeatedly listened to 21st Century Breakdown and studied the album art, which uses graffiti and street art as significant visual elements. One of the songs for which Staub created a backdrop was the eighth song on the album, entitled â East Jesus Nowhere.â Staubâ s stated goal was to convey the songâ s â mood, tone or themes.â According to Staub, the theme of the song is â the hypocrisy of some religious people who preach one thing but act otherwise. . . . The song is about the violence that is done in the name of religion.â What Staub ultimately created for this song is the allegedly-infringing work at the heart of this case, an approximately four-minute-long video. The video depicts a brick alleyway covered in graffiti. As â East Jesus Nowhereâ is performed, several days pass at an accelerated pace and graffiti artists come and go, adding new art, posters, and tags to the brick alleyway. The graffiti includes at least three images of Jesus Christ, which are defaced over the course of the video. Throughout the video, the center of the frame is dominated by an unchanging, but modified, Scream Icon. Staub used the photograph he had taken at Sunset and Gardner, cut out the image of Scream Icon and modified it by adding a large red â spray-paintedâ cross over the middle of the screaming face. He also changed the contrast and color and added black streaks running down the right side of the SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 7 face. Staubâ s image further differs from Scream Icon because Staubâ s original photograph was of a weathered, slightly defaced, and torn poster. Scream Icon is nonetheless clearly identifiable in the middle of the screen throughout the video. Staubâ s video backdrop was played behind Green Day during the performance of â East Jesus Nowhereâ at approximately seventy concerts from July 3, 2009, through November 12, 2009, and also during Green Dayâ s performance of the song at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 13, 2009. At some point, Seltzer became aware that Green Day was using his art and on September 24, 2009 he wrote the band an e-mail alerting them to their unauthorized use stating that he would like to â work out a resolution to this issue.â Apparently no resolution was possible, because on November 19, 2009, Seltzer registered a copyright in Scream Icon, and his counsel sent Green Day a cease-and-desist letter. Green Day subsequently stopped using the video backdrop. C In March 2010, Seltzer filed the instant action. His First Amended Complaint alleges direct and contributory copyright infringement, violations of the Lanham Act, and various state law claims. After discovery, defendants (collectively, â Green Dayâ ) moved for summary judgment. They primarily argued that Staubâ s video backdrop was fair use under 17 U.S.C. § 107. The district court agreed and granted summary judgment on all claims. Green Day then moved for attorneys fees under 17 U.S.C. § 505. The district court found that Seltzerâ s claims had been objectively unreasonable and granted the motion in full, 8 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. awarding the defendants a total of $201,012.50. Seltzer timely appeals both the grant of summary judgment and the grant of attorneyâ s fees. II The fair use doctrine â permits and requires courts to avoid rigid application of the copyright statute when, on occasion, it would stifle the very creativity which that law is designed to foster.â Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 577 (1994) (internal quotation marks omitted). Consequently, 17 U.S.C. § 107 establishes that fair use of a copyrighted work is not an infringement of copyright and lays out four factors to apply when considering whether the use of a work is â fairâ : (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for non-profit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. 17 U.S.C. § 107. These four factors must all be explored, and all the results evaluated together, in light of the purposes of copyright. Campbell, 510 U.S. at 578. Whether Green Dayâ s use of Seltzerâ s Scream Icon constituted fair use is a mixed question of law and fact that we review de novo. SOFA Entmâ t, Inc. v. Dodger Prods., Inc., 709 F.3d 1273, 1277 (9th Cir. 2013). Where no SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 9 material, historical facts are at issue and the parties dispute only the ultimate conclusions to be drawn from those facts, we may draw those conclusions without usurping the function of the jury. Fisher v. Dees, 794 F.2d 432, 436 (9th Cir. 1986). As the Supreme Court held in Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enter., â [w]here the district court has found facts sufficient to evaluate each of the statutory factors, an appellate court need not remand for further factfinding but may conclude as a matter of law that the challenged use does not qualify as a fair use of the copyrighted work.â 471 U.S. 539, 564 (1985) (internal alterations and quotation marks omitted). As in Fisher, â [n]o material historical facts are at issue in this case. The parties dispute only the ultimate conclusion to be drawn from the admitted facts.â 794 F.2d at 436. A The first factor in the fair use inquiry is â the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes.â § 107(1). The Supreme Court has stated that the â central purposeâ of this factor is to see â whether and to what extent the new work is transformative.â Campbell, 510 U.S. at 579. Works of this type â lie at the heart of the fair use doctrineâ s guarantee of breathing space within the confines of copyright, and the more â transformativeâ the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors.â Id. (internal citations omitted). Although transformation is a key factor in fair use, whether a work is transformative is a often highly contentious topic. See, e.g., Cariou v. Prince, 714 F.3d 694, 713â 14 (2d Cir. 2013) (Wallace, J., concurring in part and dissenting in 10 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. part) (disagreeing with majority as to whether artistsâ use of certain copyrighted photographs was transformative; would remand for further fact finding); Monge v. Maya Magazines, Inc., 688 F.3d 1164, 1185â 88 (9th Cir. 2012) (M. Smith, J., dissenting) (disagreeing with majority as to whether a magazineâ s publication of wedding photographs was transformative); Bouchat v. Balt. Ravens Ltd. Pâ ship, 619 F.3d 301, 320â 21 (4th Cir. 2010) (Niemeyer, J., dissenting) (disagreeing with majority as to whether the Baltimore Ravens football teamâ s use of a â Flying Bâ logo was transformative). A leading treatise on this topic has lamented the frequent misuse of the transformation test, complaining that it has become a conclusory label which is â all things to all people.â Melville B. Nimmer & David Nimmer, 4 Nimmer on Copyright § 13.05[A][1][b], 13168â 70 (2011) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also id. at 13-168â 69 (listing cases which have â erroneous[ly] with[held]â the transformative label). The plethora of cases addressing this topic means there is no shortage of language from other courts elucidating (or obfuscating) the meaning of transformation. To navigate these treacherous waters, we turn to the most definitive formulation of the test. The Supreme Court in Campbell stated that one work transforms another when â the new work . . . adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning or message.â Campbell, 510 U.S. at 579. This understanding was drawn by the Court in large part from Second Circuit Judge Pierre Levalâ s 1990 article in the Harvard Law Review, Toward a Fair Use Standard, 103 Harv. L. Rev. 1105 (1990). In that article, Judge Leval further clarified his understanding of â transformativeâ works: SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 11 The use must be productive and must employ the quoted matter in a different manner or for a different purpose from the original. A quotation of copyrighted material that merely repackages or republishes the original is unlikely to pass the test; in Justice Storyâ s words, it would merely â supersede the objectsâ of the original. If, on the other hand, the secondary use adds value to the originalâ if the quoted matter is used as raw material, transformed in the creation of new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandingsâ this is the very type of activity that the fair use doctrine intends to protect for the enrichment of society. Id. at 1111. Applying this understanding, Green Dayâ s use of Scream Icon is transformative. Green Day used the original as â raw materialâ in the construction of the four-minute video backdrop. It is not simply a quotation or a republication; although Scream Icon is prominent, it remains only a component of what is essentially a street-art focused music video about religion and especially about Christianity (images of Jesus Christ appearâ and are defacedâ several times during the course of the video). The message and meaning of the original Scream Icon is debatable. To us, it appears to be a directionless anguished screaming face. Seltzer himself testified to his view of the meaning of the original piece: â It addresses themes of youth culture, skateboard culture, insider/outsider culture, . . . itâ s an iconic reference to a culture and time in Los Angeles when 12 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. the image was made.â But regardless of the meaning of the original, it clearly says nothing about religion. With the spray-painted cross, in the context of a song about the hypocrisy of religion, surrounded by religious iconography, Staubâ s video backdrop using Scream Icon conveys â new information, new aesthetics, new insights and understandingsâ that are plainly distinct from those of the original piece. At his deposition, Seltzer seemed to acknowledge as much, when he stated that Staubâ s backdrop â tainted the original message of the image and [] made it now synonymous with lyrics, a video, and concert tour that it was not originally intended to be used with.â Although the law in this area is splintered, as discussed above, our conclusion on transformation is generally in line with other appellate authority on transformative use. In the typical â non-transformativeâ case, the use is one which makes no alteration to the expressive content or message of the original work. See, e.g., Monge, 688 F.3d at 1176 (magazine publication of photos of secret wedding of celebrity was not transformative because it did not â alter[] the first [work] with new expression, meaning or messageâ ) (second alteration in original); Elvis Presley Enters., Inc. v. Passport Video, 349 F.3d 622, 629 (9th Cir. 2003) (use of copyrighted clips of Elvisâ s television appearances was not transformative when the clips were â played without much interruption, if any, . . . [and] serve[d] the same intrinsic entertainment value that is protected by Plaintiffsâ copyrights.â ), overruled on other grounds as stated in Flexible Lifeline Sys., Inc. v. Precision Lift, Inc., 654 F.3d 989, 995 (9th Cir.2011) (per curiam); L.A. News Serv. v. CBS Broad., Inc., 305 F.3d 924, 938 (9th Cir. 2002) (â Merely plucking the most visually arresting excerpt from LANSâ s nine minutes of footage cannot be said to have added SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 13 anything new.â ), as amended 313 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir. 2002); Ringgold v. Black Entmâ t Television, Inc., 126 F.3d 70, 79 (2d Cir. 1997) (use of a poster as decoration on a TV show not transformative because it was used for â precisely a central purpose for which it was createdâ and defendants had done nothing with the poster to add anything new). In contrast, an allegedly infringing work is typically viewed as transformative as long as new expressive content or message is apparent. This is so even whereâ as hereâ the allegedly infringing work makes few physical changes to the original or fails to comment on the original. See, e.g., Cariou, 714 F.3d at 708 (artist who altered and incorporated several copyrighted photographs into a series of paintings and collages engaged in transformative use as to most of the paintings because the images were presented with â fundamentally different aestheticâ ); Bill Graham Archives v. Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 448 F.3d 605, 608â 09 (2d Cir. 2006) (use of concert posters in a timeline in a book on the history of the Grateful Dead was transformative; their use was as â historical artifactsâ rather than for â artistic expression and promotionâ ); Blanch v. Koons, 467 F.3d 244, 252â 53 (2d Cir. 2006) (artist who incorporated and altered copyrighted fashion photograph of a pair of womenâ s legs as part of a larger work of art engaged in a transformative use); Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp., 336 F.3d 811, 818â 20 (9th Cir. 2003) (use of exact replicas of artistâ s photographs as â thumbnail imagesâ in a search engine was transformative because their purpose was completely transformed from their original use as fine art); L.A. News Serv., 305 F.3d at 938â 39 (inclusion of copyrighted clip in video montage, using editing to increase dramatic effect, was transformative). 14 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. We conclude, therefore, that Green Dayâ s use of Scream Icon was transformative. Furthermore, although the statute instructs us to consider the â commercial natureâ of a work (and Green Dayâ s concert was undoubtedly commercial in nature) â the degree to which the new user exploits the copyright for commercial gainâ as opposed to incidental use as part of a commercial enterpriseâ affects the weight we afford commercial nature as a factor.â Elvis Presley Enters., 349 F.3d at 627. Green Dayâ s use of Scream Icon was only incidentally commercial; the band never used it to market the concert, CDs, or merchandise. Under these circumstances, the first fair use factor weighs in Green Dayâ s favor. B The second factor that § 107 instructs us to consider is â the nature of the copyrighted workâ which recognizes the fact that â some works are closer to the core of intended copyright protection than others.â Campbell, 510 U.S. at 586. Scream Icon is a creative work, meriting strong protection under this factor. Mitigating this factor in favor of Green Day is that we are instructed to consider the extent to which a work has been published. Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 471 U.S. at 564 (â The fact that a work is unpublished is a critical element of its â nature.â â ); Kelly, 336 F.3d at 820. â Published works are more likely to qualify as fair use because the first appearance of the artistâ s expression has already occurred.â Kelly, 336 F.3d at 820. Here, as in Kelly, Scream Icon was widely disseminated, both on the internet and on the streets of Los Angeles before Green Day used it in their concerts. Accordingly, Seltzer controlled the â first public appearanceâ SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 15 of his work. See Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 471 U.S. at 564. This tends to weigh in favor of the fair use of that work. Considering this factor as a whole, it weighs only slightly in Seltzerâ s favor. C The third factor looks to the quantitative amount and qualitative value of the original work used in relation to the justification for that use. SOFA Entmâ t, 709 F.3d at 1279; see also Campbell, 510 U.S. at 586. This factor captures the fact that an allegedly infringing work that copies little of the original is likely to be a fair use. See, e.g., SOFA Entmâ t, 709 F.3d at 1279 (holding that Ed Sullivanâ s seven-second introduction of the Four Seasons band was both qualitatively and quantitatively insignificant). Here, Green Day copied most of Scream Icon, both quantitatively and qualitatively. However, unlike an episode of the Ed Sullivan show or a book manuscript, Scream Icon is not meaningfully divisible. Given that fact, this court has acknowledged that this factor will not weigh against an alleged infringer, even when he copies the whole work, if he takes no more than is necessary for his intended use. Kelly, 336 F.3d at 820â 21. As the Supreme Court has recognized, this factor necessarily overlaps somewhat with the first factorâ the â extent of permissible copying varies with the purpose and character of the use.â Campbell, 510 U.S. at 586â 87. Here, as in Kelly, the use of the entire work was necessary to achieve Green Dayâ s â new expression, meaning or message.â Id. at 579; see also Kelly, 336 F.3d at 821. Thus, this factor does not weigh against Green Day. 16 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. D The fourth factor asks what effect the allegedly infringing use has on the â potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.â 17 U.S.C. § 107(4). This factor should consider â the extent of market harm caused by the particular actions of the alleged infringer [and] also whether unrestricted and widespread conduct of the sort engaged in by the defendant would result in a substantially adverse impact on the potential market for the original.â Campbell, 510 U.S. at 590 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Where the allegedly infringing use does not substitute for the original and serves a â different market function,â such factor weighs in favor of fair use. Id. at 591; SOFA Entmâ t, 709 F.3d at 1280. At Seltzerâ s deposition, he repeatedly testified that the value of his work was unchanged, but that he subjectively did not care for Green Dayâ s use of his art. He admitted that no one had ever told him that he would not buy his work as a result of Green Dayâ s use; instead, he claimed that Scream Icon was â tarnishedâ for him personally, but he did not view the piece as having lost any value. Additionally, Green Day presented evidence that its video backdrop did not perform the same â market functionâ as the original. The original, created six years before Green Dayâ s use, was primarily intended as street art. Green Dayâ s allegedly infringing use, on the other hand, was never placed on merchandise, albums, or promotional material and was used for only one song in the middle of a three hour touring show. In this context, there is no reasonable argument that conduct of the sort engaged in by Green Day is a substitute for the primary market for Seltzerâ s art. SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 17 This factor also considers any impact on â traditional, reasonable, or likely to be developed markets.â Ringgold, 126 F.3d at 81. At some point, according to Seltzerâ s declaration, Scream Icon was used in a music video by a band named â People.â Seltzer provides no additional information about this licensing, including how much revenue he earned as a result, how the music video was used by the band, or how the music video used Scream Icon. Without further context, this fact does not suffice to show that Green Dayâ s use harmed any existing market or a market that Seltzer was likely to develop. Thus, this factor weighs in Green Dayâ s favor as well. E Our evaluation of all four factors inclines us to the ultimate conclusion that Green Dayâ s use of Seltzerâ s Scream Icon was fair. The purpose and character of the use was transformative and not overly commercial. The nature of the work includes its status as a widely disseminated work of street art. Green Dayâ s use of the work was not excessive in light of its transformative purpose. And Green Dayâ s use did not affect the value of the piece or of Seltzerâ s artwork in general. Additionally, we note that factor one and factor four have â dominated the case lawâ and are generally viewed as the most important factors; Green Day wins on both of these key points. Monge, 688 F.3d at 1171. Therefore, we are satisfied that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Seltzerâ s copyright infringement claims. 18 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. III The district court also granted summary judgment to Green Day on Seltzerâ s Lanham Act claims. The Lanham Act extends liability to any person who â uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device . . . which is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection or association of such person with another person . . . .â 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). The district court concluded that Seltzer failed to present evidence showing that he used the image as a mark in the sale of goods or servicesâ that is, that he failed to establish trademark rights at all. In order to acquire trademark rights, the mark must be used in the â ordinary course of tradeâ on goods or containers, or, if the nature of the goods makes that impractical, on documents associated with the goods or their sale. Brookfield Commcâ ns v. West Coast Entmâ t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1051â 52 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 15 U.S.C. § 1127). Seltzer argues that Scream Iconâ s placement on certain advertisements for his appearance at an art gallery show was sufficient to establish trademark rights. But Seltzer has not presented any evidence that the use of the mark was â sufficiently public to identify or distinguish the marked goods in an appropriate segment of the public mind.â Id. at 1052 (quoting New West Corp. v. NYM Co. of Cal., Inc., 595 F.2d 1194, 1200 (9th Cir. 1979)). Seltzer has failed to explain how these advertisements were distributed, who might have seen them, when they were distributed, to what shows they were connected and what was sold at those shows, or any other facts which might be necessary to evaluate whether Scream Icon is deserving of trademark protection. SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 19 Therefore the district court correctly granted summary judgment to Green Day on Seltzerâ s Lanham Act claims.1 IV Finally, the district court awarded Green Day over $200,000 in attorneys fees. A district courtâ s award of attorneys fees under 17 U.S.C. § 505 is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 94 F.3d 553, 556 (9th Cir. 1996). Under the abuse of discretion standard, the district courtâ s findings of fact or its application of the legal standard to those findings of fact must be â illogical, implausible, or without support in inferences that may be drawn from facts in the record.â U.S. v. Hinkson, 585 F.3d 1247, 1251 (9th Cir. 2009) (en banc). The question presented in a case where a defendant makes a winning fair use defense is whether the successful defense of the action furthered the purposes of the Copyright Act. Mattel Inc. v. Walking Mountain Prods., 353 F.3d 792, 816 (9th Cir. 2003). It is important to recall that the Supreme Court rejected the so-called British Rule where the loser pays; rather, attorneys fees are left up to the discretion of the district court. See Fogerty v. Fantasy, 510 U.S. 517, 533 (1994) (citing 17 U.S.C. § 505). As the district court correctly recited, courts deciding whether to award attorneys fees can look to five non-exclusive factors: (1) the degree of success 1 This court has â consistently held that state common law claims of unfair competition and actions pursuant to California Business and Professions Code § 17200 are â substantially congruentâ to claims made under the Lanham Act.â Cleary v. News Corp., 30 F.3d 1255, 1262â 63 (9th Cir. 1994). W e similarly affirm the district courtâ s grant of summary judgment on these claims. 20 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. obtained; (2) frivolousness; (3) motivation; (4) the objective unreasonableness of the losing partyâ s factual and legal arguments; and (5) the need, in particular circumstances, to advance considerations of compensation and deterrence. See Fogerty, 510 U.S. at 534 n.19. Significantly, the district court found that Seltzerâ s claim was objectively unreasonable. In making this finding, the district court relied on the facts that Seltzer lost at summary judgment, that three of the four fair use factors were in Green Dayâ s favor, and that Seltzerâ s deposition testimony â effectively conceded that the use was transformative.â This is in reference to Seltzerâ s statement at his deposition, referenced above, that the new work â tainted the original messageâ and â devalue[d] the original intentâ of Scream Icon. But, the mere fact that Seltzer lost cannot establish his objective unreasonability. See Harris Custom Builders, Inc. v. Hoffmeyer, 140 F.3d 728, 730 (7th Cir. 1998) (â How the court ruled, simply put, is not a proper concern [in determining the availability of § 505 fees].â ). Further, we conclude that Green Day only won on two of the four fair use factors, rather than three as the district court concluded. And in any event, Seltzerâ s statement at his depositionâ which the district court viewed as a â concessionâ â only expressed his opinion and could not concede the transformative nature of Green Dayâ s work. See Cariou, 714 F.3d at 707 (â What is critical is how the work in question appears to the reasonable observer, not simply what an artist might say about a particular piece or body of work . . . . Rather than confining our inquiry to [the artistâ s] explanations of his artwork, we instead examine how the artworks may â reasonably be perceivedâ . . .â ). Thus, the facts relied on by the district SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. 21 court do not lend any meaningful support to the notion that Seltzerâ s case was objectively unreasonable when he brought it. This was a close and difficult case. We concluded that Seltzerâ s work was transformed by Green Dayâ s use. But that transformation was far from obvious given Green Dayâ s only slight alterations to the original. Furthermore, of the remaining three factors, one was in Seltzerâ s favor, one was in Green Dayâ s favor, and one was neutral. There is simply no reason to believe that Seltzer â should have known from the outset that [his] chances of success in this case were slim to none.â SOFA Entmâ t, 709 F.3d at 1280. Therefore, we conclude that the district court clearly erred in finding that Seltzer acted objectively unreasonably, and vacate the award of attorneys fees. No. 11-56573 AFFIRMED; No. 11-57160 VACATED AND REMANDED. All parties to bear their own costs on appeal. 22 SELTZER V . GREEN DAY , INC. APPENDICES Appendix A Appendix B