Lynyrd Skynyrd crash film can be released

Lynyrd Skynyrd's lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and five others died in a 1977 plane crash.
Lynyrd Skynyrd's lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and five others died in a 1977 plane crash.

Surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd cannot block the release of a movie created with help from a former drummer and depicts the plane crash that killed the southern rock band's lead singer, a US federal appeals court has ruled.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday overturned a permanent injunction that had stopped Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records Inc distributing Street Survivors: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash.

The movie was partially based on the memories of Artimus Pyle, one of 20 survivors of the October 20, 1977, crash of Lynyrd Skynyrd's touring plane in Mississippi. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and five others died.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is known for the songs Sweet Home Alabama and Free Bird, both recorded before the crash.

While agreeing Pyle could tell his own life story, the surviving members persuaded US District Judge Robert Sweet in August 2017that the movie, which cost $US1.2 million to make, violated a 1988 consent decree governing the use of Lynyrd Skynyrd's name and history.

But the appeals court said the wording of the decree was problematic because it blocked Pyle from making a movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd's history but not a movie about his experiences with the band, including the crash.

The appeals court also said free speech concerns warranted "caution" before approving an injunction.

Johnny Van Zant, who succeeded his brother as lead singer, and guitarist Gary Rossington were among the plaintiffs.

Pyle left Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1991 and was not involved in the appeal, court records show.

Australian Associated Press