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RHI colorized ‘Life’ rights expire Dec. 31

In the spirit of the season, RHI Entertainment has settled a licensing dispute with Republic Pictures over a colorized version of the classic Frank Capra holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Under an agreement announced Tuesday by the two companies, RHI will give up broadcast, cable and homevid distribution rights to a colorized version of the pic Dec. 31.

The settlement, which makes Republic the movie’s exclusive distributor, should put to rest the fears of some station execs who were concerned about their ability to air “Life” this Christmas season.

Republic earlier this year had taken out trade ads calling into question RHI’s continuing ability to license the film.

The squabble arose when Republic obtained exclusive rights to the music and some story elements of “Life.” Its proprietary rights conflicted with an earlier copyright obtained by RHI-predecessor Qintex Entertainment, which had colorized the movie when it was in the public domain.

The agreement with Republic requires RHI to terminate its exclusive homevid agreements with Video Treasures in the U.S., Gaga in Japan and Transvideo in Portugal.

Other terms were not disclosed by the parties.

RHI president-CEO Robert Halmi Jr. called the settlement “fair,” while Republic chairman Russell Goldsmith said, “We are very proud to be the exclusive distributor of this all-time classic motion picture.”

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