Truffaut heirs sue Warner over DVD release

12th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 9 (AFP) - Heirs of the late French director Francois Truffaut, who died of a brain tumour 20 years ago, have launched legal proceedings against Time Warner and its French subsidiary over the DVD rights to his Oscar-winning 1973 film "La Nuit Americaine", aka "Day for Night".

PARIS, July 9 (AFP) - Heirs of the late French director Francois Truffaut, who died of a brain tumour 20 years ago, have launched legal proceedings against Time Warner and its French subsidiary over the DVD rights to his Oscar-winning 1973 film "La Nuit Americaine", aka "Day for Night".

Lawyers for Laura, Eva and Josephine Truffaut said they were applying for a summary judgement against Time Warner Inc and Warner Bros France for the "illegal production and sale of the DVD" of the movie, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

The heirs are asking that an expert be named to assess alleged damage and force Warner to pay out a minimum EUR 1 million (USD 1.2 million) provision and EUR 500 per day pending a halt in the production and sale of the DVD, the family lawyer Francois Zimeray told AFP.

"This case is typical of the difficult relations between artists and the giants of world distribution," Zimeray said. Truffaut himself "never made a cent" on the contracts with Warner, who said the account was in the red.

Rights to the film, released in theatres May 24, 1973, were ceded to Warner by the French company Films du Carosse for 30 years, thus expiring May 24, 2003.

But the French plaintiffs claim Time Warner and its subsidiaries produced a DVD of the "New Wave" director's movie "only shortly before" the expiry of the rights. The DVD was released in France on November 20, 2002, and in the United States on March 18, 2003.

The film firms thus "became counterfeiters because they continued to produce and sell (it) posterior to May 24," according to the text of the legal assignation.

A bailiff has reported that the DVD was on sale in Paris stores June 30.

"There is a tolerance allowing editors of books and records to sell stocks after rights expire," Zimeray said. "But when tens of thousands of DVDs are produced shortly before the deadline, that is called abusing the law."

He said Warner had ceded the rights worldwide to television stations, and that in France one channel had screened the film last June 3 after acquiring rights for a nine-month period as from last March 1.

The proceedings have been filed before the Nanterre law court in the western Paris suburbs.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

 

 

 

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