Pub Rants

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Last week, Deadline posted the news that Warner Bros. was claiming victory after the dismissal of a $10 million lawsuit regarding the blockbuster movie Gravity starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

Quick Summary: Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen brought the suit making a claim that the movie was based on her book that New Line Productions had optioned in 1999. Warner Bros. acquired New Line studios and what is in question is whether Warner Bros, after the acquisition, is required to honor the New Line option agreement.  She explains in good detail on her blog.

So Warner Bros. might be crowing victory but what this boils down to is that the case was initially dismissed based on a legal technicality. Corrections need to be made to the case and then refiled. Nothing really has been decided.

So why should you care? You might be a writer at the beginning of your career. Maybe you don’t have a project under a film or tv option as of yet. Maybe writing as a career is simply a dream at the moment.

But someday you may very well be an established career author and what is decided in this court case will have far-reaching repercussions for all authors where Hollywood is concerned. You can bet that book-to-film co-agents are watching this very closely as are literary agents. This will change how projects are optioned in the future.

And just maybe the project being optioned is your book.

7 Responses

  1. Kimberly Unger said:

    I’ve read the details of this case, and it seems to me that there ought to have been something in the contract regarding studio acquisitions, transfer-ability of rights, etc. (We try do this in the videogame IP contracts I work with, but it can sometimes be a sticking point). This case will potentially blow things up (much like the cases over VCR and Betamax rights did back in the 80’s) for licensing IP’s for the next few years.

  2. J H Bogran said:

    Definitely need to keep an eye on this.
    I wonder if after the honor contract of the acquired company lawsuit is settled, there will be another one about copyright infringement. Author says she recently discover movie director was attached to original movie back in the day, so…

    1. SE said:

      One thing I just don’t understand- they’d rather pay huge attorney fees than the piddly author fee?? Or is it just a way to smack down authors who might be considering lawsuits? Seems like it would be so much easier-and cheaper- to Just. Pay. the Writer.

  3. Lynn said:

    It’s scary to think a studio can take an author’s story and pass it off as their own. I’ll be watching this case with interest and I hope Ms. Gerritsen wins. It’ll be a win for all writers if she does.

    1. Rob Campbell said:

      One irony is the use of authors / artists by studios and music labels. ‘Of course we need DMCA; of course we must defend copyright. Struggling writers depend on this protection.’

      Thanks, Warner, for telling the truth.