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Release for "life story" bars co-authorship claim in movie Cases of Interest >  IP >  Copyright

Marder v Lopez

In this Ninth Circuit case, the court ruled that Ms. Marder, who was the inspiration for the movie Flashdance had no right to claim co-authorship of the movie.

At issue were certain recreations of dance scenes in a Jennifer Lopez video for the song I'm Glad. Marder claimed that Paramount had no right to allow Sony to use the scenes without an accounting to Marder. Her allegation was that a release she signed did not apply to third parties.

The court ruled that when Paramount paid Marder $2300 back in 1982, she released Paramount from all claims, including a claim for co-ownership. As such, the court ruled that she could not seek damages against third parties because she could not establish co-ownership.

While it may seem like an easy decision, it is not clear at all that the case had to be determined this way. Marder claimed that she assisted with the screenplay after signing the release, and that she did not grant copyright ownership in that work to Paramount (she only granted rights to her life story, and not to any creative work associated with writing the film). It was a mistake by Paramount to allow her to contribute to the screenplay (if true- these were simply the allegations which the court accepted as true) without also getting a grant of the copyright, which is required in writing under the statute. Had the court interpreted the release more narrowly, Paramount might have been liable.

Ninth Circuit Opinion

Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
18 0455615p[1].pdf Ninth Circuit Michael Risch Mon 12 of Jun, 2006 20:04 GMT 80.86 Kb 4334
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