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A Maryland quiltmaker responsible for designs in the 1995 movie “How to Make an American Quilt” will not get a chance to argue that Hollywood stiffed her. The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider Barbara Brown’s appeal of a $2.35 judgment against Steven Spielberg’s company. A federal judge had agreed last year that one of Barbara Brown’s patterns was improperly used in “How to Make an American Quilt.” But because the film was a financial failure, the judge determined that Brown had no profits to go after. The movie, which was a critical success, chronicled the lives of members of a rural California quilting bee and starred Winona Ryder, Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, and Ellen Burstyn. The judge said Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment Inc. owed Brown $2.35 and other defendants, including University City Studios, should pay her about $14,000. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, and Brown appealed. Brown had a contract to provide 15 designs to make a quilt for the film, for which she was paid $750. She protested after one of the designs was incorporated in a second quilt, called “Where Love Resides.” The design featured a black bird flying over a man and a woman holding hands. The movie, based on a Whitney Otto novel, was a partnership between University City Studios Inc. and Amblin. While the $50 million film made no money, Brown contended she was entitled to a bigger share of the $2 million production fee paid to Amblin. Quilter Patricia A. McCormick was the film’s technical consultant who hired Brown. Brown sued her and the companies involved, protesting the use of the quilt in the movie, at exhibitions and on cable television shows, and pictures of it on T-shirts, totebags and in a book. Her appeal questioned the testimony of defense expert Arnold Margolin, a television producer who said the value of the quilt design was about .0001 percent of the movie. Margolin said he based that amount on his personal beliefs and methodology he devised for the case. Brown, who owns The Quilt Connection in Odenton, Md., said courts expect more of expert witnesses. She also said the court did not say whether Margolin’s methodology was examined and determined reliable, therefore “its gatekeeping obligation was not met.” The judge had said the use of the quilt design was careless but not willful, and that Brown was only entitled to actual damages for copyright infringement. Lawyers for the defendants told the Supreme Court that the quilt appeared on screen for about 50 seconds in the two-hour movie. They defended the testimony of Margolin, a producer since 1965. The case is Brown v. McCormick, 00-1704. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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