Volume V

The first Beatles videotapes

and the resulting lawsuits

In 1978 the first Beatles commercial videotapes appeared on the market. Meda-Home Entertainment, Inc. of Los Angeles, California issued the following titles in both Beta and VHS formats:

  • Around The Beatles (no #)
  • John Lennon Live (no #)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (M-1019)
  • Live At Shea Stadium (no #)
  • Sextette (M-188) (issued 1982)
  • Live In Tokyo (M-1021)
  • Picture quality was reasonable, and the tapes were retailed at $19.95 to $29.95. In March 1980, as the video market was starting to take off, Northern Songs took notice and filed a lawsuit, successfully having all of Meda's Beatle titles removed from the market, as well as titles by two other companies. This action was regarded as the FIRST major litigation by a music publisher in the prerecorded videotape area. In all, three manufacturers and distributors of prerecorded videotapes agreed in separate out of court settlements to pay more than $50,000 to Northern Songs, Ltd. for unauthorized use of 37 Beatles copyrights on nine programs. The three companies, Video Communications Inc., Video Tape Network Inc., and Meda Home Entertainment Inc. acknowledged that the "manufacture, distribution, rental and sale of the tapes was all done without license or permission" from Northern Songs, Ltd., which was administered in the U.S. by A.T.V. music.

    Meda Home Entertainment agreed to pay what amounted to the largest sum, more than $26,000, in 13 installments, for unauthorized uses of songs by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison on 5 programs. Video Tape Network agreed to pay $18,000, in two installments, involving 5 videotapes, while Video Communications agreed to a payment involving four of the programs for $10,000. All three companies agreed that the preliminary injunctions issued by the court on April 8th were to made permanent and that the acceptance of the stipulation by the court "shall be deemed both an issuance and service of such permanent injunction."