Yoko Ono scores in feud over rare Lennon footage

Wed May 21, 2008 6:54pm EDT
 
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By Julie Masis

BOSTON (Reuters) - John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, made big strides on Wednesday in a legal feud over footage of the former Beatle smoking pot, writing songs and discussing putting the hallucinogenic drug LSD in President Richard Nixon's tea.

Ono is in a legal dispute to stop World Wide Video, a New England consortium of Beatles collectors, from releasing the black-and-white footage as a two-hour film titled "3 days in the life" about Lennon during a pivotal and turbulent time for the most celebrated band of the 1960s.

U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel in Boston ruled in favor of Ono in two counts in a case involving videotapes that Rolling Stone magazine has described as "awesome John Lennon footage you might never see."

The case is centered around who owns the nine hours of raw footage filmed weeks before the "Fab Four" broke up in 1970.

World Wide Video claims ownership of the videos and says it paid more than $1 million for them after legal costs and other expenses. Ono's lawyers say she purchased the tapes from World Wide through a Florida man.

After that, the case gets murky. World Wide asserts that the tapes were stolen and were sold to Ono illegally, and sued Ono for copyright infringement in a bid to publicly show them.

Zobel told the court that Ono did not do anything constituting infringement -- from performing copyrighted work publicly, or distributing or publicly displaying the videos.

"What the plaintiff suggests just doesn't fit," Zobel said. "It seems to me the defendant's motion is well taken because there was no infringement."   Continued...

 
<p>Yoko Ono flashes a victory sign during an opening of her new exhibition 'Odyssey Of A Cockroach' in Moscow, May 29, 2007. John Lennon's widow made big strides on Wednesday in a legal feud over footage of the former Beatle smoking pot, writing songs and discussing putting the hallucinogenic drug LSD in President Richard Nixon's tea. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov</p>