Producers Spar Over Howard Zinn Footage


     MANHATTAN (CN) – Documentary film companies are fighting over who owns rights to interviews with the late historian Howard Zinn, author of the bestselling “People’s History of the United States.”
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     Independent Production Fund claims it paid Plowshares Media $85,000 to produce an educational DVD based on Zinn’s “The People Speak,” an anthology of speeches, but Plowshares still has not produced the DVD.
     Zinn died in 2010.
     New York-based International Production Fund claims it agreed in August 2009 to produce an educational DVD based on “The People Speak,” Zinn’s collection of speeches by American folk icons. It says it paid Plowshares $85,113.25 to finish the project before March 8, 2010.
     In its complaint in New York County Supreme Court, the IPF adds that Plowshares wrongly claims ownership of a series of taped interviews with Zinn by nonparty Ray Suarez, best known as a PBS journalist.
     Suarez signed a contract with the IPF to conduct the Zinn interviews in early 2006, according to the complaint.
     At the time, Plowshares’ owner, nonparty Lorne Lieb, worked for the IPF, but Lieb left the company in January 2009, the complaint states.
     The IPF claims that Lieb signed a contract a month before he left, assigning Plowshares the rights to “certain specified projects,” but those projects did not include the Zinn interviews.
     “In April 2012, Plowshares, by its attorney, wrote to the attorney for the Estate of Howard Zinn, and falsely represented that IPF had assigned to Plowshares ‘all right, title and interest’ in and to the Zinn interviews,” the complaint states.
     The IPF says that’s not true. It seeks declaratory judgment that Plowshares has no right to the Zinn interviews, and damages for breach of contract.
     The IPF is represented by attorney David Wolf.

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