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Beatles’ Apple Corps win Shea Stadium lawsuit

A judge has ruled against Sid Bernstein Presents in its dispute with Apple and Subafilms, saying contracts from 1965 "clearly refute" Bernstein's claims to ownership

By Jon Chapple on 27 Jul 2017

Ringo Starr, The Beatles, Shea Stadium, 1965

Ringo Starr at Shea Stadium, as seen in 'Eight Days a Week'

image © Apple Corps Ltd/Subafilms Ltd

A New York judge has thrown out a lawsuit by the estate of Sid Bernstein, the late promoter of the Beatles’ 1965 show at Shea Stadium, alleging the band’s Apple Corps company had infringed on its copyright by including footage from the concert in documentary film Eight Days a Week.

The suit – which was in October criticised as “frivolous” and “entirely meritless” by Apple Corps’ lawyers – sought ownership (or joint ownership) of the master tapes by Bernstein’s company, Sid Bernstein Presents, arguing that, “[w]ithout Sid, the mastermind of the event, this film would never have been made”.

Copyright to the film – originally shown in 1966 as The Beatles at Shea Stadium – was later acquired by Apple Corps and the band’s film-distribution outfit, Subafilms, from their management company, Nems Enterprises.

Dismissal sought for “meritless” Bernstein suit

In a ruling yesterday (26 July), judge George B. Daniels, of the US district court for southern New York, said the company could not claim ownership of the footage as Bernstein did not himself film the concert, instead signing over the rights to do so to Nems.

“The relevant legal question is not the extent to which Bernstein contributed to or financed the 1965 concert,” reads the judgment. “Rather, it is the extent to which he ‘provided the impetus for’ and invested in a copyrightable work: eg the concert film.

“The complaint and relevant contracts clearly refute any such claim by Bernstein. By the express terms of the Nems-Bernstein contract, Bernstein had no control over the filming of the concert.”

Sid Bernstein Presents’ lawyer, Donald Curry, tells Reuters his client intends to appeal the decision.


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