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Subafilms, Ltd. V. MGM-Pathe Communications Co.

24 F.3d 1088 (1994)

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Subafilms, Ltd. V. MGM-Pathe Communications Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

24 F.3d 1088 (1994)

Facts

In the 1960s, Subafilms, Ltd. (plaintiff) and Hearst Corporation (plaintiff) formed a joint venture to produce the animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine. Hearst, in turn, entered into an agreement with United Artists Corporation (UA) for financing and distribution. In the early 1980s, UA declined to license the film on home video due to uncertainty over rights. In 1987, UA’s successor, MGM/UA Communications Co. (MGM/UA) (defendant), authorized the video release of the film. Also, pursuant to an agreement with Warner Bros., Inc. (Warner) (defendant), MGM/UA authorized Warner to distribute the film on video worldwide. Subafilms and Hearst brought suit against MGM/UA, Warner, and various subsidiaries, alleging that the domestic and international distribution of the film on video constituted copyright infringement. The California Superior Court found in favor of Subafilms and Hearst. The district court affirmed, awarding Subafilms and Hearst compensatory damages. MGM/UA and Warner appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Nelson, J.)

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