A COURT has ruled in favour of Watership Down author Richard Adams’ estate in an action brought against the director of the book’s 1978 animated adaptation.

As reported in the Guardian, Watership Down Enterprises has won back all of the rights to the late author’s classic novel in a high court ruling against US director Martin Rosen.

Adams lived in Whitchurch for 20 years before his passing in December 2016 at the age of 96.

The high court ruled on May 27 that Rosen had wrongly claimed to own all rights to the book and will have to pay an initial $100,000 in damages for copyright infringement.

Rosen had entered into contracts worth more than $500,000 (£400,975) while claiming that he held all rights to the Watership Down novel, the court heard.

He also made $85,000 from an unauthorised licence for an audiobook adaptation, the Guardian reports, and failed to pay the estate fees and merchandising royalties from the 2018 BBC and Netflix television adaptation, on which he served as an executive producer.

In his ruling, Rosen and his companies were ordered by Judge Hacon to pay an initial $100,000 in damages for copyright infringement, agreeing unauthorised license deals and denying royalty payments.

Rosen and his companies were also directed to provide a record of all license agreements involving Watership Down.

They must pay court costs and the estate’s legal fees as well, which total £28,000.

Additional charges are set to be determined at a later hearing.

Juliet Johnson, Adams’ daughter and the managing director of his estate, said: “As custodians of this most beloved novel, our family has an obligation to protect the publishing and other rights for Watership Down and to preserve the essence of our father’s creation.

“After many years trying to resolve matters directly with Martin Rosen, we are extremely pleased with the high court’s ruling.

“We can now look forward to the future and develop new projects that honour the powerful and pertinent messages of Watership Down about the environment, leadership and friendship.”