Author Sues Production Company For Copyright Infringement For Changing The Script It Optioned From Him
from the moral-rights-through-contract dept
While significant parts of the rest of the world include a “moral rights” component to copyright (which covers things like proper attribution), the US has always avoided it — even though it’s supposedly required by the Berne Convention, of which the US is a participant. The US has mainly gotten around this because it’s the US and it ignores international agreements when it wants to — but also because it put in a tiny bit of moral rights in extremely limited circumstances that are so rare you’ll almost never, ever hear about them. However, it does appear that some are trying to sneak in a form of moral rights via contract.
Copycense points us to the news of a writer, Matthew Jones, who is suing the people who optioned his screenplay (which was based on his own novel, Boot Tracks) for changing the screenplay without his permission. He apparently wrote into the contract that such changes could not be made without his permission — and yet the screenplay was changed to help get funding. There’s an obvious contractual breach in there, but Jones is also claiming copyright infringement, suggesting that, by breaking the agreement, they were also creating an unauthorized derivative work. In this case, it’s a little more confusing, because there’s some question as to when the producer and director actually exercised the option to buy the screenplay/make the film. Either way, it may make for an interesting case and it makes me wonder if we’ll start to see more efforts by content creators to enforce such moral-like rights via contract.