Sony Responds To Claims That It Interfered With The Release Of Lost Beatles Concert
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.10.2013
Sony's being sued over it...
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims it "tortiously interfered" with the release of the documentary The Beatles: the Lost Concert. The documentary was set to screen at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York on May 6, 2006, before going to 500 theaters and getting licensed for television. Screenvision was then told about a licensing dispute and canceled the plan. They are suing Sony/ATV Music Publishing for $100 million claiming they committed antitrust violations.
Sony/ATV responded yesterday by Ace Arts' lawsuit after it received a 35-minute tape of a February 11, 1964 Beatles concert at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C. They claim there is already a pending copyright infringement action in the UK that will hurt the issues in this suit. The said the documentary was "lawfully enjoined pursuant to a temporary injunction (the "UK Injunction") issued by the Court in the UK Action, on consent of Ace's principal, Christopher Hunt, preventing the exhibition of the Documentary in the United States."
The matter previously went to court before it was withdrawn and re-filed in October. Ace said the footage was in the public domain since it was first distributed without a copyright notice. Copyright notices are no longer required. To distribute, Ace needed a license to synchronize The Beatles' performance of compositions with the visual images in the film. They argued that Sony/ATV was close to making a deal before being pressured by Apple Corp (which was set up by the Beatles), who wanted to use the footage itself.
Sony has declared the lawsuit "a transparent exercise in forum shopping" since a legal dispute is ongoing in the UK. They said that Ace's claims are antitrust are misguided since they didn't point out a market whose competition has been affected. Sony also said that its communications with Screenvision were protected as "litigation activity."
Apple Corp is also a defendant and has its own arguments. Apple said the public domain issue is a "red herring" since "whether or not the Videotape fell into the public domain... [that] has no impact on the copyright status of SATV's underlying Compositions."