David Nimmer is of counsel to Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles, California. He also serves as Professor from Practice at UCLA School of Law and Distinguished Scholar at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. In 2000, he was elected to the American Law Institute.

Since 1985, Prof. Nimmer has authored and updated Nimmer on Copyright, the standard reference treatise in the field, first published in 1963 by his late father, Professor Melville B. Nimmer. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Nimmer on Copyright on numerous occasions, as has every federal appellate court, countless district and state courts, as well as courts confronting copyright cases in countries across the globe.

Widely recognized as a foremost expert in copyright law, Prof. Nimmer was named one of "The 25 Most Influential People in IP" by The American Lawyer. He has also been named the 2018 Copyright Law "Lawyer of the Year" and the 2013 Los Angeles Litigation Intellectual Property "Lawyer of the Year" by The Best Lawyers in America and one of California's "Top 10 Copyright Lawyers" by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal.

Prof. Nimmer represents clients in the entertainment, publishing and high-technology fields. He has twice served as co-counsel representing clients before the U.S. Supreme Court. On the first occasion, a unanimous decision in favor of his client drew the boundaries between copyright and trademark protection. In the second, another unanimous decision in favor of his client set the stage to compensate all freelance journalists in the country for their past articles.

He gave congressional testimony at the invitation of the House Judiciary Committee in 2014; on behalf of the United States Telephone Association in 1997; and on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters in 1992; he also delivered Parliamentary testimony on behalf of the Combined Newspaper and Magazine Copyright Committee of Australia in Sydney in 1993.

He received an A.B. with distinction and honors in 1977 from Stanford University and his J.D. in 1980 from Yale Law School, where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal. 

Prof. Nimmer also served as the Chairman on the Committee on Intellectual Properties Litigation for the American Bar Association from 1989-1992.

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Representative Matters

  • The Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc.  Represented Amazon.com in the Southern District of New York as an objector to a class action settlement reached between Google Inc. and authors and publishers who sued for copyright infringement over the Google Books project.
  • Matthew Bender & Co. v. West Publishing Co.  Represented publisher Matthew Bender in the Southern District of New York and Second Circuit in a copyright action eliminating West Publishing Company’s claim to copyright in “star pagination,” in judicial decisions collected in West reporters.
  • Michael Foundation, Inc. v. Urantia Foundation.  Represented publisher in the Western District of Oklahoma and Tenth Circuit in a copyright action vindicating the right of a daughter church to publish a portion of The Urantia Book under the title Jesus:  A New Revelation.
  • Worldwide Church of God v. Philadelphia Church of God.  Represented publisher in the Central District of California and Ninth Circuit in a copyright action vindicating the right of a mother church to prevent republication of its title Mystery of the Ages.
  • Ergonome v. Compaq.  Represented computer manufacturer in the Fifth Circuit in a copyright action establishing the non-infringing status of its Comfort and Safety Guide and the award to it of its attorney fees.
  • Dastar Corp. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.  Represented Dastar Corp. in the U.S. Supreme Court in a Lanham Act case, defeating Fox's claim that Dastar could not use its own name in promoting its videos.
  • Cable News Network, Inc. v. Video Monitoring Services of America, Inc.  Represented CNN in obtaining en banc review by the Eleventh Circuit of an adverse ruling setting forth a jurisdictional requirement that all works in suit and subject to injunction must be independently registered in the records of the United States Copyright Office.
  • Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick.  Represented petitioner for review of an adverse judgment by the Second Circuit Court, holding that the formality of registration with the United States Copyright Office is a jurisdictional pre-requisite for any federal litigation to proceed.
  • Saroyan v. Stanford University.  Represented the university challenging copyright termination of music publishing rights in Come On-A My House.
  • Milne v. Stephen Slesinger, Inc.  Represented granddaughter of author A.A. Milne seeking to vindicate termination of publishing rights in her grandfather’s classic work, Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Martha Graham School and Dance Foundation, Inc. v. Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, Inc.  Represented testamentary heir of Martha Graham asserting ownership rights in the copyright to her choreography.
  • Princess Cruises, Inc. v. Amrigon Enterprises Incorporated.   Served as a special master on behalf of the Central District of California in acopyright case challenging which company has control of the cruise line’s passenger database. 
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Honors & Awards

  • Named one of "The 25 Most Influential People in IP" by The American Lawyer in 2010.
  • Named the 2013 Los Angeles Litigation Intellectual Property "Lawyer of the Year" by The Best Lawyers in America, and has been listed among those Best Lawyers for over 19 years.
  • Recognized as the 2010 "Intellectual Property Lawyer of the Year" by the Century City Bar Association.
  • Selected as a Southern California "Super Lawyer" by Los Angeles Magazine every year since the list's inception.
  • Named one of California's "Top 10 Copyright Lawyers" in 2008 by The Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal. 
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Since 1985, Prof. Nimmer has updated and revised Nimmer on Copyright, the standard reference treatise in the field, first published in 1963 by his late father, Professor Melville B. Nimmer. Routinely cited by domestic and foreign courts at all levels in copyright litigation, cases within the United States have relied on Nimmer on Copyright as authority in over 3500 judicial opinions.

He has also contributed to numerous other books, including Le lisibile et l’illsibe (2003), Cases and Materials on Copyright and Other Aspects of Entertainment Litigation (2002), Artefacts and Intellectual Property (2001), Copinger and Skone James on Copyright (1991), OnMultimedia: Technologies for the 21st Century (1990), Droit des affaires (1989), and International Copyright Law and Practice (1989 - 1998).

Prof. Nimmer has also published a series of influential articles on the subject of U.S. and international copyright. Kluwer International published one anthology of his articles in 2003 under the title Copyright: Sacred Text, Technology and the DMCA and a second in 2008 entitled Copyright Illuminated. A roster of his articles includes:

  • Innocence of Copyright: An Inquiry into the Public Interest, 63 J. Copyright Soc’y 367 (2016)

  • Copyright and the Fall Line, 31 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J..803 (2013)
  • Is Copyright Property?—The Debate in Jewish Law, 12 Theoretical Inquiries in L. 241 (2011) (with Neil Netanel)
  • Queen Anne in the Emperor’s Shadow, 47 Hous. L. Rev. 919 (2010)
  • Pooh-Poohing Copyright Laws "Inalienable" Termination Rights, 57 J. Copyright Soc’y 799 (2010) (with Peter Menell)
  • Copyright Law and the Restoration of Beauty, 47 Osgoode Hall L.J. 553 (2010)
  • Access Denied, 3 Utah L. Rev. 769 (2007)
  • Unwinding Sony, 95 Cal. L. Rev. 941 (2007) (with Peter Menell)
  • Legal Realism in Action:  Indirect Copyright Liability's Continuing Tort Framework and Sony's De Facto Demise, 55 UCLA L. Rev. 143 (2007) (with Peter Menell)
  • A Modest Proposal to Streamline Fair Use Determinations, 24 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J. 11 (2006)
  • Copyright’s ‘Staple Article of Commerce’ Doctrine:  Patently Misguided, 53 J. Copyright Soc’y 365 (2006) (with Peter Menell)
  • Promises! Promises!, 119 Harv. L. Rev. F. 74 (2006),
  • Repeat Infringers, 52 J. Copyright Soc’y 167 (2005)
  • On the Sony Side of the Street, 34 Sw. U. L. Rev. 205 (2004)
  • The Moral Imperative Against Academic Plagiarism (Without a Moral Right Against Reverse Passing Off), 54 DePaul L. Rev. 1 (2004)
  • Codifying Copyright Comprehensibly, 51 UCLA L. Rev. 1233 (2004)
  • Preexisting Confusion in Copyright's Work For Hire Doctrine, 50 J. Copyright Soc'y 399 (2003) (with Peter Menell & Diane McGimsey)
  • "Fairest of them All" and Other Fairy Tales of Fair Use, 66 Law & Contemp. Probs. 263 (2003)
  • Appreciating Legislative History: The Sweet and Sour Spots of the DMCA's Commentary, 23 Cardozo L. Rev. 909 (2002)
  • Sound Recordings, Works for Hire, and the Termination-of-Transfers Time Bomb, 49 J. Copyright Soc'y 387 (2001) (with Peter Menell)
  • Back From the Future: A Proleptic Review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 16 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 855 (2001)
  • Copyright in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Authorship and Originality, 38 Hous. L. Rev. 1 (2001)
  • Ignoring the Public, Part I: On the Absurd Complexity of the Digital Audio Transmission Right, 7 UCLA Ent. L. Rev. 189 (2000)
  • A Riff on Fair Use in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 148 U. Pa. L. Rev. 673 (2000)
  • Puzzles of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 46 J. Copyright Soc'y 401 (1999)
  • The Metamorphosis of Contract Into Expand, 87 Cal. L. Rev. 17 (1999)
  • Aus Der Neuen Welt, 93 NW. U. L. Rev. (1998)
  • Time and Space, 38 IDEA 501 (1998)
  • Adams and Bits: Of Jewish Kings and Copyrights, 71 S. Cal. L. Rev. 219 (1998)
  • An Odyssey Through Copyright's Vicarious Defenses, 73 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 162 (1998)
  • A Tale of Two Treaties, 22 Colum.-VLA J.L. & Arts 1 (1997)
  • Are We Running Through the Jungle Now or Is the Old Man Still Stuck Down the Road? 39 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 65 (1997) (with Paul Marcus)
  • Brains and Other Paraphernalia of the Digital Age, 10 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 1 (1996)
  • Abend's Stepchild, 43 J. Copyright Soc'y 139 (1996)
  • The End of Copyright, 48 Vand. L. Rev. 1385 (1995)
  • GATT's Entertainment: Before and NAFTA, 15 Loy. L.A. Ent. L.J. 133 (1995)
  • A Structured Approach to Analyzing the Substantial Similarity of Computer Software in Copyright Infringement Cases, 20 Ariz. St. L.J. 625 (1988) (with Richard Bernacchi and Gary Frischling)
  • Corcovado: Renewal's Second Coming or False Messiah?, 1 UCLA Ent. L. Rev. 127 (1994)
  • Nation, Duration, Violation, Harmonization: An International Copyright Proposal for the United States, 55 Law & Contemp. Probs. 211 (1992)
  • Refracting the Window's Light: Stewart v. Abend in Myth and in Fact, 39 J. Copyright Soc'y 18 (1991)
  • The Impact of Berne on United States Copyright Law, 8 Cardozo Arts & Enter. L.J. 27 (1989)
  • Copyright Ownership by the Marital Community: Evaluating Worth, 36 UCLA L. Rev. 383 (1988)
  • The Double Jeopardy Clause as a Bar to Reintroducing Evidence, 89 Yale L.J. 962 (1980)
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Seminars & Speaking Engagements

  • Prof. Nimmer presented “The Future of Copyright” at TEDxRoma, an independently organized TED event held in Rome, Italy, on April 8. Click here to view the video.
  • Prof. Nimmer lectures widely in the copyright arena. He has lectured around the world — at MILIA in Cannes, ALAI in Tel Aviv, LUISS in Rome, IMPRIMATUR in London, and the Copyright Society of Japan in Tokyo, and regularly to bar organizations in California and throughout the U.S.
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Bar & Court Admissions

  • 1980, California
  • U.S. District Court, Central and Northern Districts of California
  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Federal Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court