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U.S.T.A. Sues ‘Venus and Serena’ Filmmakers For Copyright Infringement

U.S.T.A. Sues ‘Venus and Serena’ Filmmakers For Copyright Infringement

Filmmakers Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, creators of the documentary Venus and Serena are being sued by the U.S.T.A for what they allege is copyright infringement for using more than 20 minutes of footage from the 2011 US Open along with other footage without an agreement.

According to the NY Times, the suit was filed Friday in White Plains, NY claiming Baird and Major:

used four times more video than would have been permitted in an agreement. The association also said the filmmakers used video that was “not in the best interest of the sport”: Serena Williams’s 2009 vitriolic tirade against a line judge.

in 2011 Baird and Major were in talks with the U.S.T.A. prior to the making of the film. They were given permission to use archival footage of the Williams’ sisters and they were granted access to film at the 2011 US Open. However, they never signed an agreement and the U.S.T.A assumed the film was being abandoned.

“Having failed to reach an agreement or otherwise pay for the footage they used,” the tennis association said, Baird and Major “simply misappropriated” the footage “for their commercial advantage without regard to the U.S.T.A.’s rights.”

A spokesman for Baird and Major said the problems occurred when they wanted to use the infamous confrontation with Serena and the line judge at the 2009 U.S. Open and the U.S.T.A. wouldn’t agree. They decided to use it anyway saying it fell under the fair-use exception to a copyright owner’s right to control his or her intellectual property.

“In trying to censor this film about the Williams sisters,” they said, “the U.S.T.A. is simply making up an agreement that never existed — we shot footage at the U.S. Open with the U.S.T.A.’s permission and of course never agreed to pay them for our own work.” They said that the association was engaged in a “shameful effort to interfere” with the film.

The movie was released in select theaters across the country in May of this year. 

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much marketing surrounding the movie, so the millions of fans didn’t get a chance to see it. Hopefully, it will be released on DVD. 

Your Jersey Girlfriend,

~Angela Davis

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