G. Ricordi & Co. v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.

189 F.2d 469 (1951)

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G. Ricordi & Co. v. Paramount Pictures, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
189 F.2d 469 (1951)

SH

Facts

John Luther Long wrote a novel in 1897 entitled Madam Butterfly. In 1900, Long licensed David Belasco the right to make a play based upon the novel. And the play was later copyrighted in 1917. In 1901, Long and Belasco assigned G. Ricordi & Co. (plaintiff) the exclusive right to make a libretto for an opera based upon the novel and Belasco’s dramatization of it. Long renewed the copyright in his novel in 1925, but there was no evidence that Belasco renewed the copyright in his play. In 1932, Paramount Pictures, Inc. (defendant) obtained from Long’s and Belasco’s estates the motion-picture rights in their respective works. Later, Ricordi sought a declaratory judgment that the 1901 agreement granted it the motion-picture rights in its operatic version of the novel and Belasco’s dramatization of it. The district court held in favor of Ricordi, and Paramount appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Swan, J.)

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