The opinion of the court was delivered by: FISHER
Plaintiff, Platinum Record Company, Inc., has brought suit against defendants Universal City Studios, Inc. and MCA, Inc. for breach of contract, misappropriation, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with business opportunities. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on the merits. For the reasons outlined herein, the motion is granted.
(f) Subject to our performance of the terms and conditions herein contained, you agree that we have the right to record, dub and synchronize the above mentioned master recordings, or portions thereof, into and with out motion picture and trailers therefor, and to exhibit, distribute, exploit, market and perform said motion picture, its air, screen and television trailers, perpetually throughout the world by any means or methods now or hereafter known.
Lucasfilm produced American Graffiti under a contract with Universal, and the film was released by a Universal subsidiary for national theatrical exhibition in August 1973. American Graffiti proved to be a major commercial success in its theatrical release and has subsequently been shown on cable television and on network and local television. In 1980 MCA Distributing Corp., a Universal affiliate, released the film for sale and rental to the public on video cassettes and video discs. This last distribution of the picture forms the basis of plaintiff's action before this court.
Plaintiff contends that its predecessor's Agreement with Lucasfilm, Ltd. (to whose rights defendants have suceeded) did not include the right to distribute American Graffiti on video discs and video cassettes. It asserts that the Agreement does not "speak for itself" in providing defendants with these rights. In any event, plaintiff believes it necessary to look beyond the actual terms of the Agreement to determine the parties' intent at the time of contracting. Plaintiff argues that the contracting parties' state of mind (as to whether or not video discs and video cassettes were to be included under the Agreement) remains to be determined, and that this presents a material issue of fact which precludes summary judgment at this point.
Paragraph 2 of the Agreement specifically gives defendants the right "to exhibit, exploit, market and perform [ American Graffiti ] perpetually throughout the world by any means or methods now or hereafter known " (emphasis added). This language is extremely broad and completely unambiguous, and precludes any need in the Agreement for an exhaustive list of specific potential uses of the film. As a previous motion-picture-related case cited by plaintiff itself has held, "if the words are broad enough to cover the new use, it seems fairer that the burden of framing and negotiating an exception should fall on the grantor." Bartsch v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 391 F.2d 150, 155 (2d Cir.1968). Similarly, in the recent case of Rooney v. Columbia Pictures Industries, 538 F. Supp. 211 (S.D.N.Y. 1982), a district court found that "where . . . a party has acquired a contractual right which may fairly be read as extending to media developed thereafter," the other party may not escape that part of the agreement by showing that the specific nature of the new development was not foreseen at the time. Id. at 229. It is obvious that the contract in question may "fairly be read" as including newly developed media, and the absence of any specific mention in the Agreement of videotapes and video cassettes is thus insignificant.
Finally, plaintiff insists that, even if the terms of the Agreement clearly give defendants rights to the music in question for home video presentation, we should look behind the written contract to determine whether the parties actually intended it to encompass this area. It has already been established that it is immaterial whether plaintiff anticipated all potential future developments in the manner of exhibiting motion pictures. There was no mistake as to the terms of the contract, as plaintiff alleges. Thus, there are no material facts remaining to be determined in this case.
Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted. An order accompanies this ...