15 September 2016Copyright

Music company founded by The Beatles embroiled in copyright suit

Apple Corps, a music company founded by members of The Beatles, has become embroiled in a copyright infringement suit.

Sid Bernstein Presents has claimed that Apple Corps, and subsidiary Subafilms, have infringed its copyright in a 30-minute film recording of The Beatles’ concert at New York’s Shea Stadium in 1965.

Sid Bernstein Presents represents the interests of late businessman Sid Bernstein, “a well-known and highly successful promoter and producer of performances by many rock groups”, according to a lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday, September 12, Sid Bernstein Presents claimed that Bernstein had hired The Beatles, and other performers, to play at the Shea Stadium concert.

The suit comes just days before the release of “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years relating to the Beatles”, a film of live performances which includes a 30-minute remastered film of the Shea Stadium concert.

In July this year, Sid Bernstein Presents submitted an application to register ownership of the original 1965 “Master Tapes”, the filming and recording of The Beatles’ performance at Shea Stadium, at the US Copyright Office.

The application was rejected on two grounds. First, the office said the claim of copyright was “adverse to the 1988 registration of copyright by Subafilms in the movie”.

In 1988, Subafilms received a copyright registration for a 1967 movie entitled “The Beatles at Shea Stadium”, which used footage from the “Master Tapes”.

Second, the company did not have direct access to the master tapes and so had submitted photos from the 1967 movie, which itself had been made from footage in the “Master Tapes”. The office regarded the photos as infringing work.

Sid Bernstein Presents then notified Apple Corps and Subafilms that it believed it was the sole author of the “Master Tapes” of the 1965 Shea Stadium performance.

It also claimed that the 1967 movie, a documentary series called "The Beatles Anthology" (which was authorised by Apple Corps) and the remastered film were infringing.

Sid Bernstein requested negotiations with the relevant parties to explore a possible resolution without engaging in litigation. Apple Corps asserted it owned all copyrights in the “Master Tapes” and declined the request to negotiate.

Bernstein’s company is seeking a judgment that Sid Bernstein was the dominant and sole author of the original “Master Tapes”, registration in that work, and an injunction against the reproduction and broadcast of the remastered film.

Donald Curry, attorney at Curry Law Firm and representative of Sid Bernstein, said: “There are not enough words to express the legacy and influence left on our culture by legendary impresario, Sid Bernstein.”

According to Curry, in August 2015 Sid Bernstein Presents contacted the head of Apple Corps stating that it believed it had rights in certain intellectual properties that Apple Corps appeared to be using and asked for the opportunity to speak with the company about these issues.

“Sid Bernstein Presents proposed on multiple occasions that the parties meet to discuss the issues and attempt to reach an amicable resolution, especially given the close relationship Sid had with Brian Epstein, The Beatles and the Beatle community,” said Curry, adding that Apple Corp’s lawyer rejected each and every proposal from SBP to meet,

He added: “Without Sid, the mastermind of the event, this film would never have been made.”

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

31 July 2017   A music company founded by members of The Beatles has won a copyright ownership dispute centring on footage from a music concert.
8 May 2018   Apple Corps, a music company founded by members of The Beatles, has scored a permanent injunction against a number of online counterfeiters selling band merchandise.