Back in August, we noted just how silly it was that 20th Century Fox was suing Warner Bros. Studios
over the movie The Watchmen
. Fox had purchased the rights to make a movie out of the graphic novel decades ago, but decided not to make the movie
. After the project bounced around at a few different studios, Warner took it on, and the movie is considered one of the most anticipated blockbusters of 2009. Yet, in a somewhat surprising move (since he'd originally said a trial would be needed next year), a judge has ruled that Fox does, indeed, own a copyright interest in the movie
. This almost certainly means that Warner will come to some form of a settlement pretty quickly, so as not to delay or hinder the movie in any manner. In effect, that means that Fox is about to get a pretty big pay day for doing absolutely nothing
on a movie that it didn't want to make
. That seems to go against everything copyright is supposed to stand for.
Now, obviously, it's pretty stunning that Warner would make this movie without its lawyers being sure that Warner owned all the rights to the film, but as we wrote in the original post, it seems rather silly to sell movie "rights" in the first place. There are plenty of mechanisms to make sure that the original creator of a story can get paid when his or her story is adapted that don't require copyright -- and allowing multiple parties to try to make a film out of a single story should lead to better overall film making. Fox didn't want to make this movie, so Warner stepped up and made a movie that many are expecting to be fantastic. Why should Fox be rewarded for its own failure to make a movie?