'Babette’s Feast’ Copyright Trial Begins May 6 in Central District of California

LOS ANGELES - April 29, 2014 - PRLog -- Spillane Trial Group PLC announced today that the lawsuit to determine Josi W. Konski’s copyright ownership of Babette’s Feast, winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, begins May 6 before Judge Audrey B. Collins in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Konski filed suit last April against the Danish Film Directors Association and the film’s director Gabriel Axel seeking declaratory relief to determine that he is the copyright holder to the film and that neither the Danish Film Directors nor Axel had rights to interfere with the recent re-release of the film in Blu-ray and DVD formats in the United States and Canada.

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 claim Axel retains 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 has 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 has 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.

“During the course of this litigation, the defendants have asserted three contradictory positions to support their contentions,” said Jay Spillane, who represents Konski. “The latest claim, that Danish law governs Konski’s claim for declaratory relief, is incorrect. This case is about Konski’s actions to license and distribute the film in the United States. As such, U.S. copyright law applies.”

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).

About Spillane Trial Group PLC

Spillane Trial Group PLC is a law firm devoted exclusively to high-stakes business trials for entrepreneurs, closely-held entities and middle-market companies. The firm begins and ends every engagement with the singular goal of prevailing at trial and enjoys a winning track record. The firm handles cases before all administrative tribunals, federal and state courts and courts of appeal and is especially known for cases involving entertainment, intellectual property, technology, finance, real estate, family wealth and company control. For more information, log on to www.spillaneplc.com.

Brenda McGann
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