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Dunnington Files U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief For Authors Guild et al. In Dispute Over Film Rights To John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath

By April 30, 2020No Comments

On April 29, 2020, Dunnington partners Ray Dowd and Olivera Medenica filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of The Authors Guild, The Dramatists Guild, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, and former Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman at the United States Supreme Court.  The case involves a dispute among John Steinbeck’s heirs over who should benefit from copyright termination rights.  The brief argues that a number of federal courts have misinterpreted provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 that permitted authors to terminate copyright grants and to recapture the copyrights for the periods of time that Congress extended the copyrights.   According to the brief, Congress intended to benefit authors and their heirs when Congress extended copyright terms in 1976 and again in 1998.  Amici curiae argue that the federal courts have frustrated Congressional intent by upholding prior copyright grants that the plain language of the Copyright Act permits authors to invalidate.   The brief is available here.

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