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Judge dismisses lawsuit over John Lennon footage.

There are a lot of Holy Grails in bootleg footage collecting.  These artifacts are talked about in hush tones.  Just knowing that this film is in existence makes me salivate.  I want to see Lennon in a candid light.  I want to see him brushing his teeth, and smoking joints.

I know, it’s a bit of obsessive compulsive behavior, but the bootleg-collecting uber Lennon fan in me just wants to see the footage.   We all know that Yoko is protective of the Lennon legacy, and protective of his image and likeness.  It seems that the judges agree with Yoko, at least for now. We will have to wait even longer to see the precious rare footage of arguably what could be John at his most candid and frank moments.  Cinema verite at it’s best and most real. 


For now, all we have is a website, 7-minutes of teaser footage of Lennon brushing his teeth, and a dream. 

  • For more information on the film, check out this great guide.

Here’s what we’ve read.

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Lawrence, Mass.-based company that wants to show rare, intimate footage of John Lennon despite objections raised by his widow.

U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel accepted Yoko Ono’s motion to throw out allegations filed by World Wide Video LLC that accused Ono of copyright infringement and conversion, or wrongfully interference with a right to use personal property, said Ono’s Boston lawyer, Jonathan M. Albano.

The court, however, has yet to rule on Ono’s counter claim seeking a ruling that she is a rightful owner of the tapes, and it is unclear when hearing on that issue will begin, Albano told The Associated Press.

Joseph T. Doyle Jr. and Matthew W. Perkins, attorneys for World Wide Video LLC, did not return calls seeking comment.

”We need to study our options to see what we’ll do next,” Doyle told the Boston Herald.

The company claims it owns the 10 hours of raw footage shot at Lennon’s England estate almost four decades ago, before the Beatles breakup. But Ono claims she is the rightful owner of the original footage in her possession and wants to keep the material private.

The footage shows Lennon hunched over a piano, smoking marijuana, and joking about putting LSD in President Richard Nixon’s tea.

”Mrs. Lennon is very pleased with the court’s swift ruling dismissing the lawsuits against her and, more importantly, that the tapes remain with the rightful owner,” Albano said in a statement.

The footage, which has never been shown publicly in its entirety, was shot Feb. 8-10, 1970, by Anthony Cox, Ono’s husband before her marriage to Lennon in 1969.

World Wide Video produced a two-hour documentary, ”3 Days in the Life,” using the footage, and planned to show it at a private school in Maine in 2007. The screening was scrapped after the company received a stop order from Ono’s lawyers, claiming copyrighted ownership of the videotapes. The producers had previously shown excerpts from the film four times, including at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J., and at entertainment and media conferences in New York and Connecticut.

In court documents, Ono said she had a ”clear and absolute” agreement with Cox when he shot the footage that it would never be ”commercially exhibited, commercially exploited or released.”

Ono said she purchased all rights to the videotapes for $300,000 in 2002 from a broker, Anthony Pagola.

But the principals of World Wide Video John Fallon and Robert Grenier say the sale to Ono was invalid, and that it owns the videos and copyright after buying them from Cox for $125,000 in 2000.

In its lawsuit, World Wide claims that shortly after its purchase, the tapes were stolen by a former employee, John Messina, whom World Wide later sued. World Wide claims in its suit that in a settlement agreement, Messina agreed to return copies of the tapes and to help them locate the original set of tapes.

Messina has vigorously denied stealing the tapes and said he believes Ono is the rightful owner.

Fallon and Grenier claim that in 2001, Pagola approached them and threatened to destroy the tapes unless World Wide agreed to let him be a broker who would find a buyer.

World Wide signed an agreement with Pagola, but said in its lawsuit that Pagola was to find a buyer ”for the purpose of development and production of a full-length documentary motion picture.”

Fallon and Grenier claim that Pagola sold the tapes and copyright to Ono without their permission and that he forged their signatures on the sale agreement.

Pagola was named as a defendant along with Ono in World Wide’s lawsuit.

Source: WBZTV


One Response

  1. It sounds like a mess in terms of determining the “rightful” copyright owner, but it looks like Yoko will likely win the case. And even if she loses this action, then she could resort to personality rights to prevent it from being shown. The good news is that most footage that ends up in the Lennon archive ends up being used in an official film at some point.

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