In an earlier post I asked whether a written agreement allowing the creation of a “Sequel” assigned the copyright in the original season of a telenovela, referred to as “the Series.” Caracol argued that the writing wasn’t a clear and unambiguous transfer of the rights in the Series, particularly since other parts of the agreement were unnecessary if the rights in the Series had been transferred.
But the answer from the court of appeals was short and simple:
Caracol Television v. Telemundo letter agreement
Here, the Letter Agreement provides in Paragraph 7 that “[Telemundo] will own and control all exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual right, title and interest (including copyright), throughout the universe in and to the Sequel and all derivatives of the Sequel, and all elements, underlying works or portions thereof … in perpetuity[.]” Thus, not only did the Letter Agreement grant Telemundo perpetual rights in the Sequel, but it also granted Telemundo perpetual rights in the “underlying works or portions” of “the Sequel and all derivatives of the Sequel.” The Letter Agreement provides in Paragraph 3 that “[t]he Sequel will be based on the original format of the Series” and Telemundo could use “all elements (e.g., characters, story, scenarios, locales, etc.) derived from the Series and any new elements added by [Telemundo] for purposes of creating the Sequel.” Since the Sequel was derived from the Series, we logically conclude that the term “underlying works or portions” of the Sequel would include the Series. The Letter Agreement assigns Telemundo rights in the “underlying works or potions” of the Sequel in perpetuity. Thus, the Letter Agreement assigns Telemundo rights in the Series in perpetuity. Accordingly, we conclude that the plain language of the Letter Agreement demonstrates that the parties intended for Caracol to assign its entire ownership interest in the Series to Telemundo.
Caracol Television S.A. v. Telemundo Television Studios, LLC, Civ. No. 21-01515 (11th Cir. Jan. 24, 2022)
Caracol Television S.A. v. Telemundo Television Studios, LLC, Civ. No. 1:180CV-23443 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 19, 2021)
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