Appeals Court Reminds Documentary Makers That Facts Are Not Copyrightable
from the and-again dept
The district court explained all of this to documentary filmmakers, but they appealed anyway, and now the appeals court has dumped the lawsuit as well, agreeing with the lower court, and explicitly pointing out you can't copyright facts. Simply because you made a documentary about a historical story, it doesn't give you ownership of that story. On top of that, it points out that there really aren't very many similarities between the stories, other than they're both based on the same historical situation, so there's no copyright infringement claim at all. The documentary filmmakers also tried a "breach of contract" claim, because Warner Bros. had talked to them about licensing the "rights" to the documentary (again, even though there's no legal reason to do so). But they never came to an agreement. And that's why the breach of contract argument fails. There was no contract to breach.
It really is quite a statement on the "ownership of culture" ecosystem we've built up when some documentarians act as if making a documentary about a real historical story somehow gives them the rights to stop others from making a film about that story.