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Netflix in copyright catch

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 23 October 2015

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Streaming giant, Netflix has landed themselves with a lawsuit for streaming a classic Italian film without the permission of the copyright owner.

Corinth Films, which claims copyright for Vittorio De Sica’s famous 1948 Italian neo-realist drama Bicycle Thieves has filed an action in New York against Netflix for copyright infringement.

They argued that, though they acknowledge that the film is in the public domain in the USA, the subtitled version is still covered under copyright law which Netflix has infringed by including it on their service.

They state that no effort has been made by Netflix to gain any permission or licence to use the film.

Bicycle Thieves has had a confusing copyright journey which started with a 1985 US court ruling in which the Judge did confirm the film was in the public domain but did say that the subtitled version may still be protected but did not confirm or deny. Neither party in that case re-registered the copyright therefore the position now is still as it stood then.

Corinth Films are claiming damages for copyright infringement and wish for an injunction to be put in place on the subtitled version of the film.

Netflix has not yet made any comment so this is one to watch to see how they fight back.

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