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Sony/ATV calls for Beatles doc lawsuit to be dismissed

By | Published on Wednesday 11 December 2013

The Beatles

Sony’s music publishing firm has called on a lawsuit being pursued against it by the makers of a Beatles documentary to be dismissed.

As previously reported, Ace Arts claims that it secured a licensing deal from Sony/ATV to release a film about and featuring The Beatles’ first ever US concert in Washington in 1964, the major controlling most of the Lennon/McCartney song catalogue of course.

But, after Ace had spent a million finishing off the doc, Sony/ATV allegedly cancelled its arrangement with the filmmakers, citing a clause that the licence was dependent on the approval of Beatles’ company Apple Corps. Ace then discovered that Apple, which had earlier confirmed it had no copyright claim over the 1964 gig recording, was now planning its own documentary about the concert.

The film firm filed a lawsuit against Sony/ATV and Apple Corps in New York in October citing mainly American competition law breaches. Though that was basically a rework of a withdrawn bit of litigation previously filed with the Californian courts.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in its response Sony says Ace’s antitrust claims don’t hold because they fail to identify a market whose competition has been affected. Moreover, the major adds, this dispute is directly linked to a separate legal case in the UK, and the New York courts should refuse to hear Ace’s litigation until the British court proceedings are completed.

Apple Corps’ response, meanwhile, added that Ace’s various arguments that the footage of the Beatles gig is in the public domain are irrelevant to the case, because the dispute is over the separate copyrights in the Fab Four’s songs, which Sony/ATV control.

It remains to be seen how the New York court now responds.