COPYRIGHT LAWSUIT OVER "WHO'S ON FIRST" STRIKES OUT IN COURT

Oct 11, 2016

By Christine Ross

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A court has ruled that producers of a Broadway play can use Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First” routine. The family of the comedy duo sued the producers of “Hand to God” but failed in appeals court to prove they own a valid copyright to the iconic comedy routine. The comedy sketch was first performed in the 1930s on radio. Abbott and Costello registered a copyright on their routine in 1944 but didn’t renew it. Time magazine in 1999 named “Who’s on First?” the best comedy sketch of the 20th century. The lawsuit followed the Broadway opening early last year of a dark comedy about a shy adolescent in a Christian ministry using puppets in Texas, whose life is overshadowed by a demonic hand puppet.

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