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British Company Sues Warner Over Superman Extras

25 Jun, 2002 By: Gregg Kilday

DVD extras may be a boon for consumers, but they could prove a legal headache for Warner Bros., which is being sued over additional footage and "making of" material that appeared when the 1978 feature Superman: The Movie and its two sequels were released on video and DVD last year.

Pueblo Film Licensing Ltd., a U.K.-based motion picture licenser and distributor that controls the copyright to the three "Superman" films originally produced by Alexander Salkind, filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charging Warner Bros. and Warner Home Video with copyright infringement and misappropriation.

The suit, filed by the firm of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, Matchtinger & Kinsella, alleges that Warner Bros. re-edited and altered Superman: The Movie by using additional footage not included in the original theatrical release and that on the DVD Superman: The Movie Expanded Edition, eight of the 44 chapters include re-edited or altered footage.

The suit also contends that Warner Bros. had no right to distribute Superman III on video or DVD and that the company also had no right to use such footage as deleted scenes, actor screen tests and behind-the-scenes documentaries featured as supplementary material on the DVD releases.

According to the complaint, "The packaging also contains a copyright notice for the Supplementary Material in Warner's name. Warner is thus representing that it is the exclusive owner of the copyright in Superman: The Movie Expanded Edition and in the Supplementary Material (both of which include the Additional Footage), when in fact, Plaintiff is the exclusive owner of all rights in the Additional Footage."

The suit is seeking unspecified damages, legal fees and an injunction barring Warner Bros. from further distribution of the videos and DVDs.

Citing a policy on discussing pending litigation, a Warner Bros. spokesman declined comment.

Pueblo has also sued Warner Bros. in state court, where a trial is set for next month, for breach of contract regarding the re-edited film and for loss of profits because Warner Bros. has not produced additional Superman sequels.

Attorney Bertram Fields, who represents Pueblo along with Jeffrey Spitz, also represents The Exorcist filmmakers William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty, who filed a copyright suit against Warner Bros. in December over an expanded version of the 1973 film called The Exorcist — The Version You've Never Seen.

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