Court Rules in Foreign Infringement Case

Rhett Pardon
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Don’t expect the U.S. Supreme Court to help if a foreign business appropriates your adult content.

At least that’s what U.S. justices indicated with Monday’s ruling involving intellectual property theft.

The court refused to hear an international copyright fight over the alleged misuse of videotaped images of truck driver Reginald Denny being pulled to the pavement and beaten during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Bob and Marika Tur filmed the scene and others from a helicopter and sold a limited license to broadcast the pictures to NBC's "Today" show.

But the Turs claim a media consortium called Visnews International made an illegal copy of the footage and transmitted it to subscribers overseas the day after the beating. Visnews was a joint venture of Reuters Television International, BBC and NBC.

The Turs sued Reuters for infringement in 1995, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that the couple could not collect damages for international distribution of the videotape.

The Turs footage showed several black men pulling the white driver from the cab of his truck, kicking and beating him, then smashing his skull with bricks and a fire extinguisher.

The Denny beating came at the start of riots that erupted when white police officers were acquitted in the earlier beating of black motorist Rodney King.

The case is Los Angeles News Service vs. Reuters Television International Ltd., No. 03-965.