Prof. William T. McGrath Says the De Minimis Doctrine Plays an Important Role in Copyright Law

Nov. 23 – Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Every good lawyer needs to know a little Latin. While copyright litigators rarely need to think about quare clausum fregit (“trespass on another’s land”) or qui peccat ebrius luat sobrius (“he who sins when drunk shall be punished when sober”), they do occasionally have to deal with the maxim de minimis non curat lex (“the law does not take notice of trifles”). De minimis copying is an act of taking that “is so meager and fragmentary that the average audience would not recognize the appropriation.” Fisher v. Dees. (9th Cir. 1986).

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