Sunday, October 6, 2013

Film and TV Industry Liabilities

In recent film and TV legal controversies, Hollywood Reporter, Esquire has reported James Cameron in another legal battle in Avatar 2. Claims that his epic film were not original and that he ripped the idea off of Eric Ryder’s story called K.R.Z. 2068. The claim did not hold up in court, however, as the court decided that Cameron’s blockbuster series was in development prior to Ryder’s pitch. It was not copyright infringement that Ryder was filing, but he was suing for meeting with the entertainment company behind Avatar numerous times and discussing his story ideas. He was told he would be compensated had his ideas been used, but the company decided not to go with his story. In court, he had to prove that Avatar was similar enough to K.R.Z 2068, but he failed to do so and the case went in Cameron’s favor. This was one of many lawsuits filed again James Cameron so it does pose the question of how much of the Avatar story was original.

The network FXX just recently found themselves in a trademark lawsuit with a company in a completely different industry, Exxon mobile. The lawsuit came about because the new logo for the network includes the same use of interlocking double X’s as the gas giant.  Exxon claimed that the logo would cause confusion between the two brands and they actually won the battle for trademark infringement. Exxon ran an internet search engine and found that comments came about from people associating the two companies. I’m sure that the comments that came up on forums about FXX’s logo did not really think that a major gas company and TV network were teaming up together, but it obviously was enough evidence to hold up in the courts that the public could be confused by the logo.

In a copyright dispute, the original copyright of the film Raging Bull expired and major studios were receiving profits from DVD sales. The woman filing the lawsuit was an heir to the original owner of the copyright Frank Petrella, who wrote the original screenplay. Petrella died before the copyright expired and was supposed to have gone to his heirs but studios have been receiving the profits from the copyright instead. Although this lawsuit hasn’t been settled yet, the daughter of Petrella should be entitled to those earnings if she is indeed an heir. The problem is that the renewal of the copyright was not made in time but there seems to be some delay in the process that caused it to expire, which she is also using to her defense. 

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