SBD/November 7, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Judge Dismisses USTA's Claim That Filmmakers Unlawfully Used Open Footage

A federal court yesterday threw out part of a lawsuit the USTA filed against filmmakers of a Venus and Serena Williams documentary that the group charged had unlawfully used U.S. Open footage. The documentary has been shown at film festivals and on Showtime. Judge Nelson Roman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the USTA’s charge of unjust enrichment. The USTA has alleged VSW Productionsused footage it did not pay for from the Open. Roman ruled that charge was pre-empted by the Copyright Act. He did allow that the USTA claim proceed that the filmmakers had broken their promise on how they would use footage and for what purpose in getting access to the '11 U.S. Open. The USTA on Tuesday withdrew its claim for statutory damages and attorney fees, thus leaving only the one remaining charge. In legal parlance it is known as promissory estoppel, meaning essentially that if one party breaks a promise, a court can enforce that promise as if it were a contract. The court can then decide damages. At this point Roman has not ruled either way, just that the charge may proceed.
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