LEGAL INSIGHTS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND MULTIMEDIA
July 15, 2005
In this newsletter:
DREAMWORKS PREVAILS IN "ANTZ" COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CASE
Scriptwriter David Seals-McClellan lost his copyright infringement case against DreamWorks. He claimed the DreamWorks movie "Antz" infringed his script entitled "Eddie the Existential Ant." The Ninth Circuit rejected Seals-McClellan's appeal from a lower court's issuing of summary judgment in favor of DreamWorks.
The two requirements that must be met to show copyright infringement are 1) access by the alleged infringer to the original work and 2) a substantial similarity between the works. Seals-McClellan believed that his script had made its way to DreamWorks via a former Universal employee who had obtained it after Seals-McClellan entered it into a Universal sponsored contest. The Court found this evidence insufficient to meet the access requirement, finding that he had not "shown anything beyond a bare possibility of access."
Because Seals-McClellan could not prove access, he had to show more than a "substantial similarity" between "Antz" and his script. He had the burden of showing the works were "strikingly similar." The Court, after Seals-McClellan's own expert admitted that both works could have been individually created, found that only similar common ideas were used, for which Copyright law does not afford protection.
Seals-McClellan v. DreamWorks, Inc., 120 Fed.Appx. 3, 2004 U.S.App.LEXIS 25426 (9th Cir. 2004).
Click here to download the court memorandum (opens PDF file).
MARK TO SPEAK AT VSDA ON JULY 27
When all's said and done, distribution is usually the hardest part about independent filmmaking. On July 27 at 10:00 a.m., Mark will speak at a seminar called "Getting Your Film Out There: From Production to Festival to Distribution" at VSDA in Las Vegas. Mark will speak about how filmmakers can identify the methods, and strategies, and channels to get their films before an audience.
The seminar is part of VSDA's Filmmaker Program. More information is available at the VDSA website.
COPYRIGHT & DISCLAIMER
Mark Litwak & Associates grants newsletter recipients permission to copy and distribute this newsletter and distribute it free of charge, provided that copies are distributed for educational and non-profit use, no changes or revisions are made, all copies clearly attribute the article to its author and include its copyright notice.
DISCLAIMER: While we are careful in preparing this newsletter, readers should consult with a lawyer before relying on any information. Case law and statutes are subject to change, and may not apply in all jurisdictions.
Copyright 2005, Mark Litwak