The rights to beloved movie/TV star Lassie have reverted to heirs of the original author, Eric Knight.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Knight’s daughter, Winifred Knight Mewborn, 87, has the right to terminate Classic Media’s copyright in the classic tale – and sequels – originating from the novel Lassie Come Home which was first published as a short story in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938.
MGM bought the movie rights and made six Lassie films during the 1940s. The iconic collie even had her own radio show which was broadcast until 1949.
The 25-page court decision outlined how Knight granted rights to make a Lassie TV series to Classic’s predecessor, The Wrather Corporation, in the 1950s.
Author Knight’s heirs renewed the copyright during the 1960s who later assigned Classic rights in 1976.
"Seventy years after Eric Knight first penned his tale of the devoted Lassie who struggled to come home, at least some of the fruits of his labors will benefit his daughter," the 9th Circuit judgment concluded.