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News service wins another go at copyright suit

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  1. Content Restrictions

    NMU         NINTH CIRCUIT         Copyrights & Trademarks         Sep 18, 2002    

News service wins another go at copyright suit

  • A federal appeals court ruled that Los Angeles News Service may sue for copyright infringement over the alleged unlicensed use of Los Angeles riots video

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Pasadena (9th Cir.) remanded to a district court the copyright suit filed against CBS Broadcasting, Inc. over footage of the beating of a truck driver during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

The three-judge panel also dismissed the Los Angeles News Service’s suit against Court Room Television Network, saying the smaller portions of the video used by the network for promotional materials were a “fair use.” The fair use exemption permits reproducing copyrighted materials for research, teaching and news reporting.

The video at the heart of the dispute was captured by LANS co-owners Marika Tur as her husband Robert Tur piloted their news helicopter above south-central Los Angeles in April 1992. The LANS footage showed truck driver Reginald Denny being pulled from his vehicle and attacked by rioters.

Group W Newsfeed, a company now owned by CBS Broadcasting, provided portions of the footage over its satellite feed service to media outlets. LANS argued that the unlicensed broadcast of the video was a copyright infringement.

In 1994, the federal District Court in Los Angeles dismissed the case, saying the broadcast fell under the “fair use” doctrine. But the appellate court reversed that decision saying that materials excluded from the district court case “are admissible evidence that should have been considered in weighing CBS’s motion for summary judgement.”

Robert Tur called the appeals court decision a “mixed bag of good and bad.”

“The ninth circuit really saved us from the district court once again on U.S. copyright,” he said. But by dismissing the Court Television case, the court did not provide a solid test on what is fair use and what is not.

LANS attorney Jay Ford said he was “thrilled” with the CBS decision. “Los Angeles News Service will be able to recover the damages that they sustained as a result of CBS’s infringement.”

Ford said LANS is seeking millions in damages.

Frederick Mumm, attorney for CBS and Courtroom Television, declined to comment on the case.

(Los Angeles News Service v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., Courtroom Television Network; media counsel: H. Jay Ford III, Tyre Kamins Katz & Granof, Los Angeles for Los Angeles News Service; Frederick F. Mumm, Davis Wright Termaine, LLP, Los Angeles for CBS Broadcasting, Inc. and Courtroom Television Network) JL

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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