Frye v. YMCA Camp Kitaki

Frye v. YMCA Camp Kitaki
617 F.3d 1005

Facts: They YMCA operated a summer camp in Nebraska where campers take part in learning programs known as “adventure trails.” Frye, the plaintiff, wrote a medieval-themed play and developed it into an adventure trail for use at the camp. Frye ended his association with the YMCA and they agreed not to use his adventure trail anymore. Later, they started using a very similar-themed adventure trail and Frye brought this complaint.

Procedural Posture: Frye filed a complaint in federal district court in Nebraska. The district court found that “the characters in Knightquestthe new adventure trail are skeletal archetypes and the plot is mostly composed of scenes a faire” and Frye failed to prove KnightQuest was substantially similar to any protected expression in his copyright. Frye appeals here.

Issue: Is KnightQuest substantially similar to the work created by Frye?

Holding: No. The appellate court affirmed.

Reasoning: Determination of substantial similarity involves a two-step analysis. First, similarity of ideas is analyzed extrinsically, focusing on objective similarities in the details of the works. If there is a substantial similarity in the ideas, expression is evaluated using an intrinsic test depending on the response of the ordinary, reasonable person. Most of the similarities between KnightQuest and Frye’s work are required for the work’s hero-on-a-quest plot, medieval theme, and summer campfire setting. After filtering out the scenes a faire, the court decided that any remaining similarity between the two works was insubstantial.

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