Producer of “Eyes on the Prize” Wins Copyright Battle

(Washington, D.C.) – Blackside, Inc., the producer of the documentary Eyes on the Prize, has reached a settlement with Downhill Battle, which earlier this year sought to promote the illegal downloading of copies of the film over the Internet, it was announced today by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, which provided pro bono counsel to the production company. First aired on PBS in 1987, Eyes on the Prize is considered by many to be one of the most important documentary films ever made about the history of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

Under the terms of the settlement, Downhill Battle recognizes that Blackside owns the copyrights to the production, and has the sole right to re-broadcast the show. Downhill Battle has agreed to stop encouraging the creation and downloading of illegal copies of Eyes on the Prize as well as video copying and sales.

For its part, Blackside has released Downhill Battle from claims, demands and damages based on its promotion of Eyes on the Prize, in accordance with the agreement.

“We are pleased that Downhill Battle has acknowledged Blackside’s copyrights and ownership of Eyes on the Prize,” said Anthony T. Pierce of Akin Gump, who represented Blackside Productions in this matter. “We all agree that Eyes on the Prize is perhaps the most important documentary films ever made about the history of the Civil Rights movement, and deserves to be accessible to the widest audience possible,” he added. “However, there is a right way and a wrong way to bring the production back into circulation. The right way respects the rights of the production company, Blackside, Inc., and its guiding spirit, Henry Hampton, as well as the rights of the holders of the copyrighted materials used in the series.”

Mr. Pierce noted that work is currently underway to raise funds to renew rights to stock footage, music and other copyrighted material contained in the programs for a new public television and educational release of Eyes on the Prize. It is anticipated that the series will be available for PBS broadcast and educational distribution in 2006.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, a leading international law firm, numbers more than 900 lawyers with offices in Austin, Brussels, Dallas, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Philadelphia, Riyadh (affiliate), San Antonio, San Francisco and Washington. The firm has a diversified practice and represents regional, national and international clients in a wide range of areas, including antitrust; appellate; banking and finance; capital markets; communications and information technology; corporate and securities; corporate governance; employee benefits; energy; entertainment and media; environmental; estate planning, wealth transfer and probate; financial restructuring; global security; government contracts; health; insurance; intellectual property; international trade; investment funds; labor and employment; land use; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; private equity; privatization; project development and finance; public law and policy; real estate development and finance; Russia/CIS; tax; and technology. 

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