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Creators of Jersey Boys, the Tony-winning play about iconic pop group The Four Seasons, took at least part of their now-famous show from an unpublished autobiography of founding member Tommy DeVito, according to a jury verdict Monday.
Decades ago, DeVito engaged journalist Rex Woodward to help him write a non-fiction account of the group’s more scandalous, even criminal, history. Woodward died before the book was ever published. When his widow, Donna Corbello, learned about the play and its connection to her late husband’s work, she sued.
Earlier this month, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, two of The Four Seasons, were cleared from any liability in the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Robert Jones found no evidence had been presented that either of the men was aware the show’s writers had copied from the book or had any ability to do anything about it if they had known.
The jury on Monday found that DeVito did not grant an implied license for the creators of the stage play to use his book as source material — and attributed 10 percent of Jersey Boys‘ success to infringement of the book.
Michael David, Marshall Brickman, Eric Elice, Des McAnuff and several corporations connected to the play were each found liable for direct copyright infringement of the unpublished book Tommy DeVito — Then and Now.
In July, the court decided to bifurcate the trial into a liability phase followed by a damages phase. So the amount of damages, if any, to be awarded to Corbello has not yet been determined.
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