Earlier this year (Sept. 2020), the authors of “Jersey Boys”—Rick Elice, Marshall Brickman, Bob Crewe, and Bob Gaudio—attained victory in the copyright case of Corbello v. Valli et al. The writers’ defense team was led with great expertise by David S. Korzenik, Esq., in a legal battle fought in the courts for over 13 grueling years. Some of the details can be read in a Hollywood Reporter article here.
In short, the decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should bolster authors’ confidence when conducting research for non-fiction works. Here, the authors had access to an unpublished autobiography by one of the musicians from the Four Seasons. Though this unpublished autobiography was a small part of the authors’ research, the plaintiff claimed certain elements could have come only from biography. In the Ninth Circuit’s own words, its decision stood for “the unremarkable proposition that facts, in and of themselves, cannot form the basis for a copyright claim” and constitutes a major win for all dramatists who create works based on historical events and people.
Congratulations to all authors working in the non-fiction realm, including, of course, the Broadway and music industry luminaries who successfully defended this case.
Read the 9th Circuit’s opinion here: https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2020/09/08/17-16337.pdf.
View oral argument before the 9th Circuit here: https://youtu.be/wcX2luGbxco