Italian Writer Claims She Owns The Rights To The Benjamin Button Story

from the someone-check-with-f.-scott-fitzgerald dept

Following the story of multiple authors all claiming credit for creating Hannah Montana, a few folks have sent in the news that an Italian writer claims that she actually wrote a story that was the basis for the hit movie, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." The woman claims she wrote and copyrighted (but never published) a short story in 1994. That should strike quite a few people as odd, as most people know that the movie is very loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story that goes by the same name as the movie... which was published in 1921. You would think that if the filmmakers really wanted to make a movie based on this unknown Italian office-worker's story, it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for the rights to the Fitzgerald story. Again, though, like the Hannah Montana case, the basic conceit of the story (someone aging backwards) is hardly that original, and is an idea that lots of people have had over time. It seems pretty silly to claim ownership of it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Dex, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    I smell a 2nd lawsuit...

    Perhaps the Fitzgerald estate should sue this woman for stealing his story?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    I thought it was based on a Star Trek Voyager episode...that was based on a Buck Rogers episode.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:32am

    No, no, no.

    Based on Merlin in Le Morte d'Arthur (1485). The estate of Sir Thomas Malory should take notice.

    And of course, if anyone ever figures out where the Arthurian legends originate, someone else will be up to sue everyone else...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    Everyone knows that Mork from Ork aged backwards and that is where the idea came from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Esahc (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Orkan

    I thought he was just Orkan

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Esahc (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Re:

    Damn it, beat me to it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    I am..., Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    I own the copyright to the King Arthur story...

    ... seriously... I am Merlin... reborn... I'm not kidding I really am. I psychic tarot card reader told me, it MUST be true!

    So give me my royalties!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    RD, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Oh please

    Piers Anthony, Chronos, the "Incarnations of Immortality" series, circa late-80's. Similar mechanism, main character ages in reverse time to everyone else, so he lives backwards. This is hardly a new idea. The IDEA cant be stolen, just the IMPLEMENTATION. Did her story have a man named Benjamin Button? Did her character experience the SAME things as in the movie? The SAME set pieces, characters he interacts with, time, date, etc? Because just a "similar idea" isnt enough with all the prior art, sorry. Fitz got there before everyone else, suck it up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Re: Oh please

    Never-ending story (book, not movie) had a reference to a whole race of people for whom the whole "reverse aging" thing was standard fare...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    bikey (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:12am

    wrote and copyrighted?

    Just a detail, but you don't 'write and copyright'. As soon as an idea is in fixed form, it is automatically subject to copyright. The US, alone in the world, requires registration before you can start an infringement action, but this does not 'create the copyright', it just gives you documentation necessary to file an action. Come on guys, this is basic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Public Domain

    If Fitzgerald's story was publishing in 1921, it is likely in the public domain already, and wouldn't have to be licensed by the film-makers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    SuperSparky, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    Re: Public Domain

    Only if the Copyright was not renewed. Which you could do even before the time was extended for Disney's sake.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:34am

    You owe me...

    I own the rights to the concept of posting comments on web sites. Pay up suckas!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    sam moshe, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Ha!

    Oh yeah, well, I've patented the idea of coming up with a stupid lawsuit and suing someone over it. So there. You're all infringers, bitches!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Re: wrote and copyrighted?

    Just a detail, but you don't 'write and copyright'.

    To be clear, she wrote and *registered* the copyright.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, me too. Shazbot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    LostSailor, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Public Domain

    Actually, since this was first published in 1921, it would have been eligible for one renewal after the first 28 year period, but even then, would not have been eligible for further extension even under the 1976 copyright act (falling short by a year or so). I'm pretty sure this is in the public domain and no rights would have to have been secured by the filmmakers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    DanC, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Public Domain

    Correct. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was collected with other short stories into the book Tales of the Jazz Age, is in the public domain, and available on Project Gutenberg.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Public Domain

    If Fitzgerald's story was publishing in 1921, it is likely in the public domain already, and wouldn't have to be licensed by the film-makers.

    The story *was* licensed, though I'm not sure why.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    What's up with these crazy Italians ?
    Something in the water ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    bikey (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:55pm

    Re: Re: Public Domain

    Renewal was only relevant when the term was 28 years. After 1976, it was 50 years, and then and then and then, but renewals no longer relevant.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    bikey (profile), Feb 4th, 2009 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: wrote and copyrighted?

    There's no such thing as 'registering' the copyright (except to bring an action) outside the US and after 1989.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    eleete, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 8:30pm

    Derivative Transformative ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 4th, 2009 @ 9:33pm

    Not again

    A story like this comes up every time a popular movie comes out. How many movies were "written" by people who either want to blackmail the studio to give them money or they want attention.
    I forget the name of the previous movie, but something like 10 people came forward to say they came up with the idea and should be paid, when the movie was written by a single screenwriter, based on his own book!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Isaac K (profile), Feb 5th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    Yeah. Original.

    Bckwards aging was also the concept behind Merlin, I believe, where he was born old and hence had wisdom beyond his "years."
    This is all bunk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This