Warners Wins Dispute Over Old Marketing Materials
Nov. 25, 2016—Major movie studios are belatedly asserting copyright over images in marketing materials from old films. A legal summary from a Warner Bros. Entertainment studio lawsuit in U.S. federal district court against a nostalgia-products marketer indicates Warners won a $2.57 million copyright infringement award.
“In dispute over merchandise with images taken from old posters and lobby cards for Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, Eighth
Circuit [court] affirms $2.57 million award to Warner Bros. for copyright infringement and permanent injunction on trademark claims,” write attorneys from law firm Loeb & Loeb on legal website AMEC.
The loser in the copyright court decision “AVELA licensed the images [to others] for use on various consumer products, from shirts, lunch boxes and playing cards to three-dimensional figurines, water globes and action figures.” So the images were sourced from vintage movie marketing materials.
Film distributors fight an uphill battle in such cases of third parties reproducing old marketing materials. The reason is the studios typically didn’t assert copyright ownership originally by placing the glyph © on materials, though they did so for the films themselves that are clearly copyright protected.
"Today, vintage original movie posters are collectibles, selling from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars," says the third edition of book Marketing To Moviegoers. "The most valuable seem to be the 1930s horror films. Most are also available as inexpensive reprints, and these marketing materials are part of the moviegoers’ enduring romance with cinema."
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