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April 16, 2004
Copyright in Fireworks Displays
LawLawLaw has been following what might have been a very interesting copyright story regarding whether one can copyright a fireworks performance in a such a way that it would be illegal to broadcast the performance from cameras placed in a public location (Zambelli gets copyright for Thunder script as TV war heats up). According to the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal (Zambelli gets copyright for Thunder script as TV war heats up):
WAVE-TV paid the Kentucky Derby Festival $50,000 for exclusive broadcast rights to Thunder in a bidding process that three of the four major Louisville stations participated in.
But WHAS-TV, which had been the "official" Thunder station for several years, was outbid. It later announced it would broadcast the event without a contract, contending that Thunder is a news event on public property open for anyone to see, including its cameras.
The copyright issue raises many interesting questions, especially in an era where cameras are almost universal accessories. Of course, the case that seems most on point is not exactly a copyright case, but involved the right of publicity for a human cannonball perfomer. Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard, 433 U.S. 562 (1977).
However, The Louisville Channel subsequently reported that WHAS has since backed down from its claim that they would broadcast the show (Spat Over Thunder TV Rights Cools).
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