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If You Have A Screenplay Worth Millions, Shouldn't You Back It Up?

from the courts-think-so dept

Here's a fun story for a Friday. It appears that a guy who had written three screenplays (creatively titled: "Color of Tulip," "Blood on Ice," and "Blood on Seven Hills") saved them all to his desktop and didn't bother backing them up. At one point, he had entered into negotiations to sell the screenplays for $2.7 million, but those talks never went anywhere. However, sometime after this, he signed up for DSL from SBC (now AT&T). When the technician came to his house to install the DSL, he tried to "help" by cleaning up the "unused" items on the guy's desktop -- which, of course, included the screenplays. Eventually, SBC paid for data recovery (and fired the technician), which seems fair. The data recovery process didn't fully work, since it wasn't done until quite some time after the files were deleted, by which point the data had been overwritten. However, the guy wanted more, claiming that the screenplays were worth the millions he never actually got in a signed deal. The courts, however, appear to disagree, with a jury noting that he was also at fault for not making a backup of such "valuable" files. While it's true that the tech never should have deleted the files, it's a bit of a stretch to believe that they're worth millions without any deal in place. The lack of a backup suggests that the guy didn't even value the content enough to do the most basic of backups.

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  1. identicon
    rick morris, 10 Jul 2006 @ 11:02am

    Screenplay worth millions

    If someone comes into my home and damages my property (even though it is unintentional), they are liable for damage recovery. For instance, when I was moving my household goods, the shipper would damage my furniture. The shipper always paid for repairs.

    In the case of intellectual property, such as written memoirs, manuscripts, screenplays, etc. it is difficult to assign a value, and in most cases the property cannot be recovered nor replaced with new materials.

    I suppose it is possible to purchase insurance for protecting intellectual property, but the difficulty of assigning a value is still unresolved.

    My grandmother wrote an auto-biography and I have the original manuscript. It was never published, and yet is totally irreplaceable. It cannot be re-created should be accidently damaged.

    Suppose someone came into my home, and damaged this "priceless" manuscript. Perhaps, I had it in my kitchen where I was reading it, and the repairman accidently spilled water on the manuscript rendering it unusable. Is the repairman liable for damages? How much?

    Am I liable for handling the manuscript carelessly by leaving it in my kitchen? Did I cause the repairman to accidently spill water? Could I forsee that someone could spill water in my kitchen onto my "priceless" manuscript?

    Should I take reasonable steps to safeguard my manuscript from accidental damage?

    I am sure everyone has "priceless" possessions, that are not protected from damage. Yet when someone accidently damages my stuff in my home, I would expect them to compensate me for my loss.

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