7 November 2017Copyright

BBC hit with copyright suit over Bill Cosby documentary

The producer of “The Cosby Show”, the Carsey-Werner Company, has hit broadcaster the BBC with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

According to a claim (pdf) filed on Friday, November 3 at the US District Court for the Central District of California, the BBC aired the infringing works in a programme called “ Bill Cosby – Fall of an American Icon”.

US comedian Cosby has been the subject of numerous sexual assault allegations, and the BBC broadcast a documentary, created by Sugar Films, that covered how Cosby “came to face a criminal trial for sexual assault a decade after the accusations were made”.

Carsey-Werner Company alleged that the documentary included eight audiovisual clips and two music cues which were used without permission.

“The total cumulative running time of the infringed works is 234 seconds, which represents 6.5% of the total running time of ‘Fall’,” said the claim.

BBC first broadcast the documentary on its BBC2 channel on June 5, 2017. It was broadcast again on the BBC on June 7 and was made available on its iPlayer website.

“Defendants wilfully, deliberately and knowingly infringed copyrights that they knew to be the property of Carsey-Werner,” the company claimed.

The producer of “The Cosby Show” also claimed that on the day of broadcast, it sent an electronic notice to the BBC stating that the materials were not licensed and permission hadn’t been sought.

“These communications demanded that ‘Fall’ should not be re-broadcast, and that the infringing materials must be removed immediately from the iPlayer website,” it added.

The suit stated that the defendants (BBC and Sugar Films) had responded separately and denied liability.

It added: “Defendants had several months in which to clear any material they wished to use in ‘Fall’ before it was broadcast, and they clearly knew that the infringed works belonged to Carsey-Werner.”

The production company is seeking damages in excess of $75,000, an account of all profits and a jury trial.

The BBC said: “‘Fall’ was produced by Sugar Films for the BBC. The BBC has not broadcast the documentary, or made it available online, in the US.”

The network will respond to the lawsuit in due course.

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