BROOKLYN (CN) - Walt Disney Pictures claims in court that the family of the man who called the races in which Secretariat became a legend has no publicity rights in a movie that does not use their late father's voice.
Disney and Buena Vista Home Entertainment sued the Estate of Charles Anderson and five of Anderson's survivors, in Federal Court.
"Secretariat," the movie, released on Oct. 8, 2010, depicted races from the early 1970s that were called by the late Charles Anderson, but his voice was not used in the movie, the movie producers say.
Anderson died on March 24, 1979 in Commack, N.Y.
Disney and Buena Vista say in the complaint that Anderson's widow, Marsha Anderson, and his four children, Sally, Susan, Kelly and Casey Anderson have claimed for 2 years that the movie violated publicity rights.
The Andersons claimed that the DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Secretariat" in 2011 contained recordings of "Mr. Anderson's original 'calls' in violation of Mr. Anderson's rights," according to the complaint.
Disney and Buena Vista say they licensed the material from copyright owner CBS Broadcasting, through its licensing agent, Thought Equity Motion.
"Defendants, through counsel and representatives, have asserted over the course of nearly two years that Mr. Anderson's family had not authorized the alleged uses of Mr. Anderson's voice in the motion picture 'Secretariat' or in the additional bonus materials included in the home entertainment releases," the complaint states. "Defendants contend that plaintiffs were obligated to obtain such authorization and demanded and continue to demand payment from plaintiffs, asserting multiple bases of liability, including under the right of publicity and copyright laws."
Disney and Buena Vista say that Anderson lost his publicity rights by dying in New York State.
"Defendants have no claim under the right of publicity based on the home entertainment release of 'Secretariat,' including bonus materials, because, among other things, Mr. Anderson died a New York domiciliary before such release occurred, thereby extinguishing any rights which may have existed," the complaint states.
Disney and Buena Vista also claim that they bought valid licenses for the clips, and that Charles Anderson did his work for hire.
They seek declaratory judgment stating that the Andersons have no publicity or copyright claims.
They are represented by Barry Slotnick.