Why Britain is in an uproar over ‘The Crown’ — and why it’s a tempest in a teapot
The “Crown” — a TV drama that’s sweeping the U.S.
Bryan Alexander | USA TODAY
Originally published on October 30, 2013 6:06 pm
How it ends and much more about TV’s royal family is on the line in a British court case over who has the right to continue depicting the royal family on TV.
The decision last week by a three-judge appellate panel comes after several years of court-stopping the series, which has been made in Britain and in other countries.
After six years in the U.S. on Netflix, a second season of The Crown premiered Monday.
The TV series is based on a novel by author Thomas Kenealy, about a young British royal who falls in love with his American cousin, whose secret is that he is a Canadian.
So the real question: How does this affect the rights of the U.K. to continue airing the television series, and what rights does the U.S. have?
The argument centers on a contract Kenealy signed when the series was first released, which states that the author’s rights to the TV series are owned by Crown Publishing.
The contract says that “the Crown” only has permission to adapt the novel for TV if the rights to use the characters are “acquired from the U.K.”
The contract states that the television series will have “the same rights as the novels in the U.K.”
But the appeal panel ruled that “The Crown” is not a book “in the U.K.” It’s a U.S. production, and because U.S. copyright law gives the author exclusive rights to the work, the author owns the TV series, the panel said.
“The Crown” has been broadcast in over 40 countries, but the appeal panel said that under U.S. copyright law it is British law that applies in the U.S. for TV adaptation and production.
“It would violate copyright law if