Babette’s Feast received recent attention as Pope Francis’s favorite film. With the settlement, Pope Francis and the film’s other fans will have continued access to the film in modern media.
Konski contended that he had successfully purchased the copyright to Babette’s Feast from the estate of Just Betzer, the late producer of the film, and that his rights to continue to release the film rested on U.S. law. The Danish Film Directors and Axel contended that the copyright transfer was defective under Danish law.
“The trial began with drama the creators of the film would have appreciated,”
Konski acquired the rights to Babette’s Feast in 2007 when he purchased all assets, rights, projects and intellectual property from the estate of Just Betzer, who produced the film. The defendants claimed Axel retained a copyright interest in the film arising from a provision of Danish copyright law that expresses certain “moral rights” for authors of creative works. Axel had previously contested his rights to certain payments under his directing and writing agreements for Babette’s Feast, including in a 1997 arbitration with Just Betzer, and continued to press Konski for contractual payments, but until recently had never taken the position that he owned a copyright interest in the film. Konski alleged that it was not until the Danish Film Directors and Axel learned of a new DVD and Blu-ray release of Babette’s Feast that they asserted for the first time that Axel owned a copyright interest in the film under Danish law.
Babette’s Feast tells the story of a political refugee from France who repays the kindness of the two Danish sisters who employ her by using all her winnings from a lottery to cook a sumptuous meal for the sisters and their friends. Washington Times reporter John Hayden listed the film as Number 3 on his list of the top 12 Christian-themed movies, and the film received widespread media attention as the favorite film of Pope Francis.
The case is Konski v. Danish Film Directors, CV 13-02383-ABC (JCx).
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