Monday, July 22, 2024

Tom Petty Documentary Accused of Stealing Filmmaker’s Footage: Lawsuit

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“[Martyn] Atkins had been conned into believing he would produce and direct the film so that Atkins would reveal the location of his footage to defendants,” the lawsuit alleges

Warner Music Group‘s production branch is being sued by filmmaker Martyn Atkins over the company’s alleged use of footage in a 2021 Tom Petty documentary without permission. Last week, Atkins filed a lawsuit in L.A. accusing the company of “brazen exploitation” of copyrighted recordings in the Somewhere You Feel Free film.

In the suit, Atkins claims he never gave the company permission to use “a shocking 45 minutes” of footage he shot in the Nineties and that was “not compensated in any manner for the Film’s unauthorized, brazen exploitation of the works Atkins created and owns,” read the suit.

Somewhere You Feel Free documented the making of Petty’s 1994 album Wildflowers and ended up allegedly featuring much of Atkins’ footage shot when he worked as art director while Petty made the record. According to the lawsuit, he and Petty had talked about making a documentary at the time.

Following the musician’s death, Atkins claims he met with Petty’s daughter and his estate representatives and was promised he’d direct a documentary, so he shared the file location of much of his footage.

“Atkins had been conned into believing he would produce and direct the film so that Atkins would reveal the location of his footage to defendants,” the lawsuit claims. “He was then cut out completely — in every imaginable respect. He was not even told as a courtesy that his works would be misappropriated and featured, let alone asked his consent.”

A rep for Warner Music Group did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.

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According to the complaint, after Atkins watched the documentary he realized that much of his “most compelling and iconic shots” of Petty had been used. Atkins also said that the footage was not shot in a “work-for-hire” agreement while he worked on the album. (Billboard was first to report the lawsuit news.)

The suit seeks compensatory damages, restitution, the return of Atkins’ original film and audio materials, and further relief as determined by the court.



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