Film Festival Temporarily Enjoined From Screening Aretha Franklin Documentary

Franklin v. Nat'l Film Preserve, No. 15-cv-1921 (D. Colo. filed 9/4/2015) [Doc. 14].

The Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the Telluride Film Festival from screening a documentary film about Aretha Franklin, which consisted primarily of previously unreleased footage from a 1972 concert.  The deed granting the film producer rights in the footage required Ms. Franklin's consent to use the footage, which defendant did not obtain.

The Court found that Ms. Franklin has a strong interest in her rights of publicity, and to the use of her name/likeness.  She also had a federal statutory right to prevent bootlegging.  17 USC 1101(1).  The Court found that the film, which essentially recreated the entire concert experience, was not a fair use, and that a TRO would preserve the status quo.

Claims Dismissed In Aretha Contract Suit

BLD Productions, LLC v. Viacom, Inc., NYLJ 1202489492977, at *1 (SDNY, Decided March 31, 2011) (Gardephe, J.)

Summary: Plaintiff and defendant Viacom's affiliate negotiated a March 8, 2001, agreement for a benefit concert by Aretha Franklin. On April 10, 2001, Franklin granted plaintiff her rights to video and audio recordings of the concert. Despite the agreement's March 8, 2001, date and the concert's April performance, plaintiff claimed that the agreement was not finalized until 2006. Plaintiff alleged breaches of oral and written contract, and the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, contending that Viacom and its affiliate failed to engage a distributor to make, market and distribute recordings of the concert, their failure to account for sales and revenues and to pay royalties to plaintiff.

Judge Gardephe dismissed the case against Viacom because it was not a party to the agreements, and plaintiff did not plead sufficient facts to pierce the corporate veil. Judge Gardephe also dismissed claims against Viacom's affiliate to the extent that plaintiff's breach of written contract claim were based on the affiliate's failure to provide master recordings to plaintiff. Plaintiff's claim that the agreement required the affiliate to secure a distributor was deemed time-barred by the New York statute of limitations. Judge Gardephe alsor dismissed plaintiff's claim for breach of an oral contract.