Recently, the heirs of the song’s creators of Andy Griffith show theme song filed a lawsuit in California federal court against CBS for direct and contributory copyright infringement.
The plaintiffs allege that defendant is using the work without a license.
Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer wrote “Theme for the Andy Griffith Show” in the ’50s, and registered its copyright in 1960. The right was transferred to a partner, Larrabee Music.
Larrabee Music partnership was dissolved after the Diana R. Spencer Trust and the Hagen Family Trust inherited the rights of the song while partial copyright ownership was given to the Hagen Children’s Trust and the Hagen Decedent’s Trust.
The defendants claimed that CBS doesn’t have a license to use the song in DVDs or on digital platforms.
The plaintiff allege that CBS is dwelling on a 1978 agreement between Viacom and Mayberry Enterprises regarding rights to the series and that the agreement does not cover home video or other modern media.
The plaintiff attorney, Attorney Neville Johnson, said that “CBS has refused to enter into a new agreement with Plaintiffs to authorize its exploitation of the Theme in additional media or to otherwise cease conducting such unauthorized exploitation”.
“To the contrary, Plaintiffs have since learned that CBS has licensed the Series to digital services such as iTunes and Amazon for distribution and public performance.” – Johnson said.
The heirs are seeking permanent injunction to stop CBS from exploiting the theme plus payment for either actual damages and disgorgement of the network’s profits or statutory damages.