Hoffman v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.
Why it Matters:
This case addresses the thin line between editorial and advertising content.
Los Angeles Magazine created a photo spread with screen captures from famous movies. The magazine digitally edited the images so it appeared that the celebrities were wearing modern designer clothing. For example, Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Tootsie” was dressed in a Richard Tyler gown and Ralph Lauren heels.
The District Court judge ruled in Mr. Hoffman’s favor, finding that the magazine had “crossed over the line between editorial content and advertising.” The defendant appealed.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously reversed the previous decision.
“Viewed in context, the article as a whole is a combination of fashion photography, humor, and visual and verbal editorial comment on classic films and famous actors. Any commercial aspects are ‘inextricably entwined’ with expressive elements, and so they cannot be separated out ‘from the fully protected whole.’”
Hoffman V. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., 255 F. 3d 1180 (Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 2001).