Friday, November 22, 2002

Unauthorized Depiction of Real People Does Not Violate Rights Says Federal District Court

November 22, 2002

In This Newsletter:

Unauthorized Depiction of Real People Does Not Violate Rights Says Federal District Court

A Federal District Court has ruled that the unauthorized depiction of relatives of deceased members of the crew featured in "The Perfect Storm" does not violate their rights of privacy, nor is it commercial misappropriation under Florida law. Claims by a surviving member of the crew were also dismissed.

In the case brought against Warner Bros. and its co-defendants, Judge Anne Conway ruled that movies are not a "commercial purpose" under a Florida statute and so the use of real people's names in a film does not violate the statute. Even if movies were covered under the statute, the film is protected by the First Amendment and so there would be no grounds to sue on this issue.

The plaintiffs argued that since the movie was a fictionalized account, the statute should apply. Judge Conway found that fictionalization was "immaterial," as the statute has never been interpreted to include falsity as a factor.

Judge Conway also dismissed plaintiffs' claim of false light invasion of privacy argument, determining that the deceased family members' privacy interests could not be legally represented by their living relatives. Invasion of privacy is a personal right that does not descend to one's heirs. As for the relatives themselves, the judge said they were not falsely depicted in the film, so they had no standing.

Finally, plaintiffs unsuccessfully argued that the film disclosed private facts. The judge ruled that this claim requires the disclosed facts to be both private and true, whereas the plaintiffs contended that the disclosed facts were false.

Motion for Summary Judgment was granted to Warner Bros.
Tyne v. Time Warner, 204 F.Supp.2d 1338, 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 9912 (M.D.Fla. 2002)

“Pendulum” to Show on Cinemax
"Pendulum," from our client Charles Acosta, will be running on Cinemax later this month.

Winner of the 2001 Deep Ellum Film Festival "Best Dramatic Feature" Award, and official selection at the 2001 Hollywood Film Festival and San Marco Film Festival, "Pendulum" is a crime/suspense story about power and gender. A woman police detective (Rachel Hunter) tries to crack a murder case whose facts are covered up by a boys' club. The film also stars James Russo and Matt Battaglia.

"Pendulum" airs Nov. 30 and Dec. 16 on Cinemax. Check local listings for showtimes.
Click here to go to the "Pendulum" website:

“To End All Wars” to Open at L.A.’s Arclight Cinemas
Our client, producer Jack Hafer, is proud to announce a one week exclusive engagement of the film, "To End All Wars," at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood from December 6 – 12.

"To End All Wars" is based on a true story about four Allied POWs who endure harsh treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors during World War II while being forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle. Ultimately they find true freedom by forgiving their enemies. The film stars Robert Carlyle and Kiefer Sutherland. The film has been shown at many festivals including Toronto and Telluride.
Click here for the "To End All Wars" website: Arclight Cinemas at 323.464.1478 for tickets and show times or visit them on the web at

Mark Litwak Discusses Dead Celebrity Rights in Nov/Dec. SCREENTALK
What privacy rights to dead celebrities have? In the November/December issue, four entertainment attorneys, including Mark Litwak, answer common questions filmmakers ask about what can and can't be done with a celebrity's name and likeness in a project.Screentalk can be found on newsstands and online at November/December table of contents is available at