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A federal appeals court Monday revived a legal squabble over the footage of Reginald Denny being beaten a decade ago during the Los Angeles riots. At issue is the April 1992 taping from a helicopter of Denny being pulled from a truck and a brick thrown at his head by rioters. The footage came to symbolize the Los Angeles riots and was broadcast repeatedly. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Los Angeles News Service, which copyrighted the footage, may sue CBS Broadcasting Inc. on allegations of copyright violation. The case originally was dropped as the parties tried to settle, but was resubmitted in 1999 when negotiations failed. The independent news video service alleges a CBS company known as Group W Newsfeed distributed parts of “Beating of Reginald Denny” without consent. The appeals panel said “a reasonable jury could find from the admissible evidence that CBS infringed LANS’ copyright.” But the appeals panel’s statement is not binding, and the merits of the case must be brought to trial. The appeals court’s decision overturns a federal judge, who had dismissed the case. H. Jay Ford III, the news service’s attorney, said the decision was a victory for independent newsgathering operations. “If they no longer have the ability to make money off the footage they gather, than who’s going to gather the footage?” Ford asked. Los Angeles News Service, he said, is seeking millions. CBS attorney Frederick Mumm, who also defended Courtroom Television Network in the case, did not have an immediate comment. In a separate action, the court dismissed Los Angeles News Service’s suit against Courtroom Television Network. The service claimed the network, known as Court TV, violated the same copyright works. The court, however, said the station had a “fair use” right to a tiny portion of the service’s tape without permission because Court TV’s purpose with the footage was to advertise the cable channel’s trial coverage of Denny’s attackers. The 9th Circuit said Court TV’s use of the footage did not “significantly affect” the market for licenses to the footage and that Court TV transformed the work from breaking news coverage to trial reporting. Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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