Sony Faces a $100 Million Lawsuit for Sabotaging a Beatles Documentary…

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Ace Arts is taking Sony/ATV and Apple Corps Ltd to court for $100 million in damages for sabotaging their Beatles documentary.

Ace Arts completed a documentary about the Beatles’ impact in America, titled The Beatles: The Lost Concert. They used footage from a 1964 concert, The Beatles’ first in the states. The concert footage is not under copyright, so it was fair game for Ace, which they confirmed with The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd.  Ace subsequently struck a deal with Sony/ATV regarding licensing of the songs themselves, then Ace reached a distribution deal with Screenvision.

This is when the trouble started.

TheWrap has acquired court papers regarding a complaint filed by Ace in New York federal court, claiming Sony/ATV and The Beatles’ Apple Corps Ltd. started unfairly interfering with the documentary. Sony found out Apple Corps was making their own documentary based on the same footage and pulled out of its previous licensing deal with Ace.  Then Sony/ATV allegedly made false claims to Screenvision about Ace’s rights to the material.

The rest is history: Screenvision cancelled distribution, theaters cancelled showings, and the film was ruined.

This is Ace’s second attempt at a lawsuit. They previously took the issue to court in California but withdrew it.


Image by Gambarrotti, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

3 Responses

  1. Jughead

    How was the concert footage not “under copyright”? I thought ACE owned the copyright.

    • jw

      According to the suit, filed in U.S. district court in New York last week, the company that filmed the concert allowed the film to be transferred without copyright protection, and that no copyright was ever filed on the performances, putting them in the public domain.

      • Jughead

        Aha–so, the copyright arose when the footage was filmed, but the owner abandoned it to the public domain?