The Dramatists Guild offers congratulations to its members, Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman, as well as their Jersey Boys co-authors, Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, on their victory in the copyright case of Corbello v. Valli et al. The writers’ defense team was led with great expertise by David S. Korzenik, Esq., in a legal battle fought in the courts for over 13 grueling years, as depicted in this Hollywood Reporter article.
Guild President Doug Wright stated that a loss in this case “would have had a chilling effect on playwrights, screenwriters and novelists everywhere, rendering research almost impossible.” Fortunately, the 9th Circuit’s decision confirmed, in its own words, “the unremarkable proposition that facts, in and of themselves, cannot form the basis for a copyright claim,” and constituted a major win for all dramatists who create works based on historical events and people.
The Guild is proud that The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund participated in this case, by submitting an Amicus Brief (authored by Guild and DLDF attorney David Faux, with support from General Counsel Ralph Sevush), arguing that Corbello’s claims were barred by the principle of Copyright Estoppel, among other defenses. The DLDF’s argument was endorsed by the court’s decision, which held that the plaintiffs could not “explicitly represent its account as historically accurate, not historical fiction” while trying to sell their manuscript, but then “later claim, in litigation, that aspects of the work were actually made up and so are entitled to full copyright protection.” The DLDF offers special thanks to David H. Friedlander, Esq., who represented the DLDF in the submission of its Amicus Brief as a “friend of the court."