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Broadway show producers successfully defend copyright infringement allegations

Last week, the United States District Court of Nevada handed down a court order dealing with a longstanding allegation of copyright infringement against the producers of hit musical The Jersey Boys.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Claimant in the proceedings, Donna Corbello, filed the lawsuit against the producers of The Jersey Boys because she felt the musical was a “derivative work” from an autobiography she had assisted in producing. The autobiography in question, The Four Seasons, was about a “1960s pop group with mob connections and a long string of hits” and was published in 2005, the same year that The Jersey Boys made its way to Broadway and won a host of awards.

The court case involved the analysis of a contract between Devito (a member of the Four Seasons and contributor to the autobiography) and The Jersey Boys producers was examined which allowed the producers the right to use certain material from the autobiography. Matters were complicated by uncertainty as to whether a reversionary clause was valid.

At first instance, the jury in the case decided that the producers of The Jersey Boys did not have a non-exclusive grant to use the work and that they had infringed the autobiography. This verdict was challenged by the Defendants and the result of the challenge was decided last week. Judge Robert Jones executed an order confirming that the autobiography was fairly used, and thus the producers of The Jersey Boys successfully defended the allegations of copyright infringement against them.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.