Ruling says 'Marshall' didn't infringe upon docu 'Glory'

A federal appeals court has affirmed a ruling in favor of Warner Bros. in the copyright infringement case involving the studio’s 2006 feature “We Are Marshall” and the 2000 documentary “Ashes to Glory, the Tragedy and Triumph of Marshall Football.”

A three-judge panel issued a ruling Thursday that affirmed the 2008 summary judgment by U.S. District Court Judge Gary Allen Feess that the WB pic did not infringe on the doc.

Deborah Novak and John Witek, who produced the docu, had accused the studio and others associated with “We Are Marshall” of fraud, copyright infringement and breach of contract.

The appeals court said in its six-page ruling, “The producers have failed to raise a triable issue of substantial similarity and the district court did not err in entering summary for Warner Bros. on the copyright infringement issue.”

Warner’s attorneys had contended that the two films are similar only in that both deal with the events surrounding the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 football team members.

Feess also ruled against the breach of contract claim, noting that although Novak and Witek engaged in negotiations with Warner-based Thunder Road on a rights deal, the plaintiffs were unable to reach agreement. The appeals court agreed.

“No rational jury could find that a contract was entered between the producers and Warner Brothers,” the ruling said.

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