Frank Music Corp. v. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, Inc.

886 F.2d 1545 (9th Cir. 1989)

When the plaintiffs, Robert Wright and George Forrest, wrote the musical Kismet, they based their work on an earlier play by the same name. Likewise, the musical compositions were adapted from the work of the composer Alexander Borodin. (As a side note, Borodin, in addition to being a famous composer, was also a well-regarded chemist).

The earlier play, first performed in 1911, was the basis of several films. But it was the Wright and Forrest version that had the most success. In a small irony, the musical was performed in Ziegfeld Theatre, a similarly named but different theatre from the one where Hallelujah Hollywood was performed. (The former theatre was actually financed by William Randolph Hearst. For information on his life, see the discussion of International News Service v. Associated Press.) Hallelujah Hollywood was performed in the old MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, which is now Bally's Casino.

MGM paid $125,000 for the rights to produce a film version of the musical. However, the court found that this license was not broad enough to cover the defendant's derivative musical work.