Beatles’ Apple Corps win Shea Stadium lawsuit
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.
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.
Apple Corps sued by Shea Stadium promoter
The estate of Sid Bernstein, the late promoter of The Beatles’ famed 1965 concert at Shea Stadium in New York, is taking legal action against two of the bands’ companies, Apple Corps and Subafilms, for alleged copyright infringement over use of footage from the show in upcoming documentary film Eight Days a Week.
Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years – directed by Ron Howard and produced in cooperation with both surviving Beatles and the widows of George Harrison (Olivia) and John Lennon (Yoko Ono) – includes 30 minutes’ worth of remastered footage from Shea Stadium, the copyright to which was later acquired by Apple Corps, founded by The Beatles in 1968, and film-distribution outfit Subafilms.
However, Sid Bernstein Presents disputes the legality of the copyright and claims ownership of the concert footage, parts of which have appeared previously in the Ed Sullivan-produced film The Beatles at Shea Stadium and in the Anthology documentary series.
Sid Bernstein Presents seeks to be named sole author of the Shea Stadium footage, or joint author with The Beatles
The lawsuit, Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC v. Apple Corps Limited et al, was filed in the New York Southern District Court on Sunday (11 November).
The suit, reports Billboard, proposes several solutions, including having Sid Bernstein Presents named sole author, or joint author with The Beatles. It also seeks to have previous use of the footage declared copyright infringement.
Donald Curry, representing Sid Bernstein Presents, tells Billboard a statement on the case will be issued later today.