Beatles Documentary Sparks $100 Million Lawsuit Against Sony/ATV

Beatles Documentary Sparks $100 Million Lawsuit Against Sony/ATV

Company claims that its Fab Four concert film was sabotaged by music publisher

Whatever happened to “All You Need Is Love”? Oh yeah, right — not where busines is concerned.

Music publisher Sony/ATV has been slammed with a $100 million lawsuit over a documentary about the Beatles’ first concert, according to court papers obtained by TheWrap.

See video: Paul McCartney Has Nightmares About Playing With The Beatles

The Beatles’ Apple Corps Limited is also listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Ace Arts claims that Sony/ATV sabotaged its film “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” by asserting “spurious copyright infringement threats with respect” to the film, which explores “the inital impact of the Beatles in America from the vantage point of the group's first concert, held on February 11, 1964 in Washington, D.C.”

According to the suit, filed in U.S. district court in New York last week, the company that filmed the concert allowed the film to be transferred without copyright protection, and that no copyright was ever filed on the performances, putting them in the public domain.

Also read: An Unvarnished View of the Beatles – Told by Their Secretary, Good Ol’ Freda

However, Sony/ATV — which owns rights to a number of Beatles songs — allegedly ruined a distribution deal that ACE struck with Screenvision at the 11th hour before the premiere of the film by making false allegations to Screenvision about Ace's rights to the material. According to the lawsuit, the false claims caused Screenvision to exit the distribution deal, and for theaters to cancel showings.

According to the suit, the box office gross for the film “was reasonably projected to be over $50 million.”

Also read: Paul McCartney Could Regain Rights to Beatles Songs (Report)

A spokesman for Sony/ATV declined comment to TheWrap.

Ace Arts is seeking damages “in the sum of at least $100,000,000.”

The company had previously filed suit over the film in California, though that suit was dismissed.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

  • Jim

    “However, Sony/ATV — which owns rights to a number of Beatles songs”

    I wonder if MPL/Lenono is involved?

    • anonymous

      no. they are not, though they own rights to three of the songs performed.

      • Jim


        There's a Len/Mac song copyright 1995 by MPL but supposedly never recorded by ANYONE.

  • Johnny R

    Sony may own the rights to most of their songs, But the actually rights to the show's videos are open domain, since their was no copyright placed on those videos back then. Sony is overstepping their boundaries here. They will settle out of court.

  • HarryArms

    Ace Arts deserves a kick in the arse instead. The first ever concert was not on Feb. 11 in DC but on Feb 9 on the Ed Sullivan show.

    • right

      key WORD (concert), what do you not understand? Ed Sullivan was a guess appearance, not a concert.

      • Mary MacMertz

        You're right. My error. Thanks for clearing that up. I don't think, however, they were a ‘guess’ appearance. Most people knew them. It always makes me smile when people are rude in their language to be all “I'm right, you're wrong” and then screw up grammatically. Thanks for the smile!

  • Jim

    Also Quincy Jones is suing JACKSON estate and Sony Music for back royalties adding up to $10 million.

  • Kagome Dirksmeyer

    I wonder if EMI Will be come involved since EMI owns the Recordings

  • Right

    No movie should have a copyright law if it has every been released on a DVD to the public. that is like saying, that Ford motor company should get a royalty everytime someone buys a car or truck over and over. Or Home builder gets commission every time a house he has build in his lifetime gets sold. The Courts needs to stop that crap ASAP.

  • Big Jock

    Nobody owns anybody's music. Its all a scam. Michael Jackson only bought the Beatles songs so he could limit their use and try to eventually erase their history altogether.