The Beatles Sued Over Concert Footage Copyright Infringement

The Beatles Sued Over Concert Footage Copyright Infringement
Courtesy of Elevation Pictures
While Beatles doc Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years has been getting some rave reviews, not everyone is excited about seeing the rare live footage of the Fab Four in action. The band are being sued over copyright infringement due to the use of remastered footage of their 1965 show at New York's Shea Stadium.

Billboard reports that Sid Bernstein Presents, LLC, which represents the late businessman/promoter who arranged the Shea Stadium concert, has sued Apple Corps Ltd. and Subafilms Limited for the use of the footage. The theatrical run of the film adds 30 minutes of supplemental footage from Shea Stadium.

The suit acknowledges that the defendants had acquired the copyright via an old agreement between Beatles manager Brian Epstein's NEMS Enterprises and Sullivan Productions, though now questions the legality of said agreement. 

The Beatles had allegedly tried to register ownership of the "Master Tapes" for the 1965 concert footage this summer by using a deposit copy of Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, but the Copyright Office rejected the application since they did not actually have access to the master tapes. The argument is that Bernstein's company claims to be the sole owner of the footage via the production of 1967 TV special The Beatles at Shea Stadium. 

As the suit explains it:

By reason of being the producer of and having made creative contributions to the 1965 Shea Stadium performance, as well as being the employer for hire of the Beatles and the opening acts, who performed at his instance and expense, Sid Bernstein was the dominant, and hence sole, author of the copyrightable work embodied in the Master Tapes, and the sole owner of all exclusive rights therein.

The suit aims to prevent the remastered footage being shown and distributed. While this would affect Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, it also claims the mid-90s The Beatles Anthology TV series infringed on Bernstein's copyright by using footage from Shea. The Anthology 2 album is also under fire for including a live performance of "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" from the concert.

While details have yet to arrive in full, the suit suggests listing Bernstein as the sole author of the ownership of the master tapes, or at least a joint author along with the Beatles. The surviving Beatles have not yet commented on the suit.

You can read Exclaim!'s extremely favourable review of Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years over here. A trailer for the film, which begins with a shot from Shea Stadium, can be seen below.

Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years opens in theatres this Friday (September 16).