June 11, 2013 11:44

The Beatles' first ever US gig sparks lawsuit

A 35-minute tape of the concert is at the centre of a new legal dispute

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Footage of The Beatles' first ever US gig is at the centre of a new lawsuit.

Ace Arts acquired a 35-minute tape of the band's gig in Washington DC on February 11, 1964 and planned to show it in full as part of an 86-minute documentary called The Beatles: The Lost Concert. The film, which also features talking head contributions from Chuck Berry, Aerosmith and Mark Ronson, was due to screen in US cinemas in May 2012.

" align="right" />However, Ace Arts claims that Sony/ATV thwarted the film's release by denying them the synchronisation licences that are required whenever music is matched to visuals. Instead, Sony/ATV allegedly took the "highly unusual" step of granting those licenses exclusively to Apple Corps.

The lawsuit, as uncovered by The Hollywood Reporter, claims: "At the 11th hour, in mid-April 2012, Sony/ATV, at the insistence of, and in conspiracy with, Apple Corps, wrongfully interfered with the distribution contract by making false statements to exhibitors, theatre owners and potential distributors concerning Ace's legal right to exhibit the documentary, making unjustified threats of legal action and filing a baseless lawsuit in England."

Ace Arts is now suing on antitrust grounds as well as for abuse of copyrights, tortious interference and unfair competition. Apple Corps apparently has its own concert film in the works called The Beatles Live! which will feature '60s gig footage submitted by both fans and professionals.

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