Oprah dodges $100m suit over fat president quiz

Oprah Winfrey (AP)

A federal judge in Pennsylvania has tossed out an author's $US100 million lawsuit against Oprah Winfrey for violating the copyright in the political booklet, How America Elects Her Presidents.

Charles Harris claimed in a lawsuit that in 2008, as Winfrey began supporting Barack Obama's presidential campaign, he sent 10 copies of his booklet to The Oprah Winfrey Show in hopes of gaining publicity.

He followed up with several inquiries but got no response.

According to the complaint, however, Winfrey allegedly read aloud exact questions that were included in the book in her February 16, 2009 show.

Mr Harris filed a lawsuit against Winfrey following the show for alleged copyright infringement.

Winfrey filed a motion to dismiss, seeking sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit, saying that had the plaintiff obtained a public transcript of the show in question, he would have realised the talk show host did not read Mr Harris's "exact same questions" aloud with the arguable exception of one: "Which one of our presidents weighed the most?"

During the episode, titled Oprah's Search For The Smartest And Most Talented Kids, she brought children on set, including one six-year-old named Graham who she said was a "first grade whizz kid who knows more about American presidents than most adults".

Oprah and Graham joshed about various presidents from George Washington to Mr Obama, before the talk show queen asked about the heaviest president.

Graham correctly answered it was William Howard Taft at 148.3 kilograms.

Winfrey's motion to dismiss the lawsuit said Mr Harris's lawyers should have known facts about American presidents are not copyrightable.

A compilation of facts based on the selection and arrangement can be copyrightable, but Winfrey pointed out that Mr Harris did not register his work as a compilation, and it lacked originality, among other things.

US district court judge Jan DuBois agreed Mr Harris's work is "not original," and that Winfrey's use of the fat Taft fact, even if she did learn it from Mr Harris's book, was not an infringement.

The judge, however, determined the plaintiff's claims were made with reasonable good faith under the circumstances, and declined to award sanctions.

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