Beatles Win Shea Stadium Concert Footage Rights

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A judge in New York has ruled that Apple Corps, The Beatles’ company, has the right to stop a company that claimed it owned the rights to footage of the band’s legendary Aug. 15, 1965, concert at that city’s Shea Stadium.

According to an article from Reuters, “U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan said Sid Bernstein Presents LLC, named for the concert’s promoter, failed to show it deserved sole control over the Aug. 15, 1965, footage and deserved damages reflecting its many subsequent uses.”

The late Bernstein promoted the concert but, said the article, “Daniels said the company, which said it had been assigned Bernstein’s rights, could not claim to be the ‘author’ of a copyrightable work even if Bernstein were the driving force behind the sold-out concert because he did not film it.”

Related: The Beatles at Shea Stadium, 1965

Daniels’ decision further stated, “The relevant legal question is not the extent to which Bernstein contributed to or financed the 1965 concert; rather, it is the extent to which he ‘provided the impetus for’ and invested in a copyrightable work, e.g., the concert film. The complaint and relevant contracts clearly refute any such claim by Bernstein.”

An attorney for the Bernstein firm said that they would appeal the judge’s decision.

The Beatles as they head to the stage at Shea Stadium, August 15, 1965 (Photo:

Sid Bernstein Presents filed its lawsuit last September, “claiming that Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had taken custody of the master tapes without permission,” according to Reuters.

The biggest venue the Beatles had played in the New York metro area prior to Shea Stadium was the 2,800-seat Carnegie Hall in February 1964. It was considered an audacious move for Bernstein to leap nearly 20 times larger from that to 55,000 tickets for Shea Stadium. Yet every one of them sold and the take was a bit over $300,000, split ($2.2 million in 2017 dollars) between the band and Bernstein. The Beatles performed a 12-song, 30-minute set. The show set records for both the size of the audience and its earnings.

Related: BCB’s review of the Ron Howard Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week

Footage of the Shea performance was later used in many documentaries, such as The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966, The Beatles Anthology in 1995 and the Ron Howard-directed Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years in 2016.

Watch: The Beatles at Shea Stadium


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