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Beatles company win in copyright battle of Shea Stadium concert footage

By | Published on Friday 28 July 2017

The Beatles

A New York court has dismissed the legal action being pursued by Sid Bernstein Presents against Beatles company Apple Corps. The former sued the latter over who owns the copyright in footage of the band’s famous 1965 concert at the city’s Shea Stadium.

As previously reported, this dispute came off the back of the recent documentary film ‘The Beatles: Eight Days A Week’ which featured 30 minutes of footage of the 1965 show. Sid Bernstein Presents argued that it owned the rights in that footage because the company’s late founder – concert promoter Sid Bernstein – had instigated the concert and paid for the show to take place.

Apple Corps countered that the actual recording of the gig had been undertaken by Ed Sullivan’s Sullivan Productions and NEMS Enterprises, the company of Beatles manager Brian Epstein. The rights in the footage, it added, had then subsequently been acquired by Apple Corps and its sister company Subafilms.

When applying to the courts last year to have the case launched by Sid Bernstein Presents dismissed, Apple Corps dubbed the litigation “frivolous” and also noted that Bernstein himself never claimed to have ownership of the Shea Stadium footage in the nearly fifty years that lapsed between the show and his death in 2013.

According to Reuters, in siding with Apple Corp earlier this week, judge George Daniels wrote: “The relevant legal question is not the extent to which Bernstein contributed to or financed the 1965 concert; 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”.

To that end, Daniels granted the Beatles company its motion to have the case against it dismissed. Though it’s thought Sid Bernstein Presents could as yet appeal.