From the Archives: Marx brothers lose copyright case

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In a case followed closely in the press, on Nov. 2, 1937, the Los Angeles Times reported:

Groucho and Chico Marx, comedy stars of the stage, screen and radio, yesterday were fined $1,000 each by United States District Judge Cosgrave for infringing on a copyrighted radio script.

The judge expressed a doubt as to the validity of the indictment on which the Marx brothers were convicted by a jury Saturday, but said he was convinced, as was the jury, that a deliberate appropriation of the copyrighted work was made …

The Marxes were convicted of airing a radio script on September 1, 1936 without paying the authors, Garrett and Carroll Graham, brothers, who had submitted it to them for purchase.


This photo was published in the Oct. 30, 1937, Times accompanying a story on the trial. When published, the image was flopped – Groucho was on the right.

The photo also appears in the 1999 Los Angeles Times book “High Exposure: Hollywood Lives -- Found Photos from the Archives of the Los Angeles Times.”

The post was originally published on June 12, 2012.

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here