Beatles ‘Lost Film’ blocked

August 2015

Music publishing, Film & TV


Sony Corp has won a High Court ruling in London, blocking a documentary-maker from releasing a movie about the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.  “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” had been due to open for a limited run in US theatres in 2012.


The film by WPMC Ltd. about the 1964 performance in Washington was found to have infringed Sony’s copyrights in the U.K. and the U.S. in eight of the twelve songs in the concert, including “From Me to You” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. Sony and the Fab Four’s label, Apple Corps, took issue with the Ace Arts film’s release as it contained archival clips from the band’s historic Washington, DC concert back in February, 1964, when Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison performed, and other  tracks included “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. The film also included interviews with legendary guitarist Chuck Berry and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The 1964 gig took place two days after The Beatles were officially introduced to audiences in the US with a slot on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.


The concert, shown in cinemas and theatres across America as part of a 90-minute package with performances by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore, took place a few months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and helped spark “Beatlemania” in the U.S. What happened to the master tapes after the show “is unclear,” Mr Justice Arnold said.
The songs “are reproduced in their entirety; the extent of the reproduction is excessive having regard to the transformative purpose; and the permit such use would likely damage the market for, or potential value of,” the songs, Arnold J said in the ruling.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC & Anor v WPMC Ltd & Anor [2015] EWHC 1853

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