The pay’s the thing

Court cites Godard over copyright in 'Lear'

PARIS — A Paris court found Gallic helmer Jean-Luc Godard guilty Tuesday of copyright infringement, after the director used text by writer Viviane Forrester without her authorization in his troubled production of “King Lear.”

“In reproducing and diffusing in this film a paragraph of the book ‘The Violence of the Calm’ without the authorization of the author and the editor, M. Godard and the company Bodega Films have committed acts of copyright infringement against Mme. Forrester and against Editions du Seuil,” the court said.

The tribunal forbade Bodega to continue distribution of the film, which was penned by Godard, Norman Mailer and Richard Debuisne (“C’est le bouquet!”), until the passage is credited to Forrester.

Furthermore, the helmer and the French distrib were ordered to pay the author and the publisher E5,000 ($6,350) each in damages and interest.

The verdict must also be published at the expense of Godard in two newspapers or magazines.

The court’s judgment is one in a long line of problems “King Lear” has faced since its conception. Godard agreed to do an adaptation of the Shakespeare play at Cannes in 1986, signing a deal on a napkin with producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, of the now-defunct production outfit Cannon Films.

But when Godard showed a work print of the pic the following year at the fest, the film was so far from the Bard’s original that the producers threatened to sue the helmer. Godard, however, escaped a legal battle when Cannon folded a month later.

Pic, which stars Godard, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Burgess Meredith, Mailer, Leos Carax, Julie Delpy and Molly Ringwald, was later bought by Bodega from Hollywood Classics. The distrib finally released “King Lear” on a handful of screens in 2002, 15 years after it was first lensed.

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