RKO Pictures Inc. has asked a federal judge to prevent Color Systems Technology Inc. from adding color to 10 black-and-white RKO films.

Filed Monday in Los Angeles federal court, the suit accuses Color Systems Technology of copyright infringement for the “unauthorized reproduction and adaptation through colorization” of the films.

RKO also requested that the judge issue an injunction preventing any further colorization work on the 10 movies.


Joe Ondrick, a spokesman for RKO Pictures, said in an interview that in 1955 RKO sold the distribution rights to the films but retained ownership of the copyrights. The distribution rights were originally sold to a small company, which sold the distribution rights to MGM and were included in the library that Ted Turner bought. Turner has ordered 100 black and white films colorized from the MGM library.

The 10 films listed in the RKO suit are: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” (1939); “Allegheny Uprising,” (1939); “Tall in the Saddle,” (1944); “Back to Bataan,” (1945); “Badman’s Territory,” (1946); “Return of the Badmen,” (1948); “Fort Apache,” (1948); “Mighty Joe Young,” (1949); “Every Girl Should Be Married,” (1949), and “Big Sky,” (1952).

The suit also asks for damages of at least $10,000 per film as well as the surrendering of the tapes already colorized and any profits accrued from the sale of any colorized films thus far.

Spokesmen for Color Systems Technology could not be reached for comment.