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MAI Photo News Agency v. American Broadcasting Co.

2001 WL 180020 (2001)

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MAI Photo News Agency v. American Broadcasting Co.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

2001 WL 180020 (2001)

Facts

MAI Photo News Agency, Inc. and its principal, Greg Mathieson (collectively, Mathieson) (plaintiff), granted a license to American Broadcasting Company, Inc. (ABC) (defendant) to use video footage owned by Mathieson of military operations in Iraq. The license agreement authorized ABC to use Mathieson’s video recordings in the ABC program Peter Jennings Reporting (program) “as distributed two times worldwide in all media now known and hereafter conceived or created.” The agreement required ABC to compensate Mathieson at a rate of $40 per second of video used. Mathieson sent ABC two tapes containing footage in which ABC had expressed interest. ABC made working copies of the tapes, transferring the video from VHS to Beta format for purposes of ABC’s production needs. ABC used 85 seconds of Mathieson’s footage in the program and sent Mathieson a check for $3,400 (85 seconds times $40). ABC aired the program in June 1997, and at the end of the broadcast, ABC announced that viewers could purchase a copy of the program for $29.95. ABC then sold 248 copies of the program. ABC rebroadcast the program in December 1997 but omitted Mathieson’s footage, apparently because Mathieson had threatened legal action against ABC. Mathieson eventually filed suit, arguing, among other things, that ABC exceeded the scope of the license agreement and infringed Mathieson’s copyrights by making working copies of the tapes and by distributing the program on home video. ABC moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Knapp, J.)

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