Superman Lawyer Claims Warner Bros. Lawsuit Is A SLAPP

from the slapp-back dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the odd decision of Warner Bros. studio to personally sue Marc Toberoff, the lawyer who successfully represented the heirs of the creators of Superman to win back some of their copyright, by using copyright's termination rules. Toberoff is making a career of this, and has been helping numerous other content creators start the process of reclaiming rights using the termination process -- which makes him somewhat... disliked in the entertainment industry. Still, to sue him personally seemed quite extreme. As we noted at the time, the lawsuit seemed to be based on the idea that Toberoff is a jerk and a savvy business person. As we noted at the time, that doesn't appear to be illegal.

Not surprisingly, Toberoff agrees, and he's filed to dismiss the lawsuit under California's anti-SLAPP law (one of the most comprehensive anti-SLAPP state laws), claiming that the entire lawsuit is just an attempt to shut him up. Matthew Belloni, at the link above, isn't convinced this is a real SLAPP situation, but notes that it could make the case a lot more interesting, as Warner Bros., will likely have to prove its case much faster than planned. And, if Toberoff wins, he could also win legal fees and open up a stronger case for Toberoff to file a countersuit for "malicious prosecution." If this goes according to Toberoff's plan, Warner Bros. might regret this particular lawsuit even more than they regret losing some of the rights to Superman...


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 1:29am

    Nice poker play

    Sounds like checking the bet in poker only to have the other player think you have nothing and raise you, only to have you raise him/her back in a big way and for much more than has you simply called the cards :)

     

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  2.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 2:12am

    It might be simpler to say that he was holding a straight, while you held 3 aces and one more just appeared. ;)

     

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  3.  
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    cc (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 3:32am

    I don't have time to go through the lawsuit docs, so can anyone tell me under what pretext Warner is suing this guy in the first place?

    Perhaps anti-SLAPP is the right way to go, seeing Warner appear to be doing this to shut him up.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 4:47am

    It just amazes me how much the government has spoiled these big corporations. They almost always give them their way and when they don't get their way they throw a huge tantrum. They're like little children.

     

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  5.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    From what I read Warner Bros. sued Toberoff because Toberoff was taking advantage of content creators to file his lawsuits and get the proceeds of the copyrights himself.

    Let's assume that it's true. Let's assume that Toberoff was ripping off the content creators. Even if that is true, that does not give Warner Bros. standing to bring a lawsuit.

    So as far as I'm concerned, Warner Bros. lawsuit fails on its face and should be dismissed.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 4:58am

    Re: Nice poker play

    Lawsuits are generally much like poker. Attempts to seek a settlement are similar to bluffing.

    I got four aces.

    Ok, I fold, here is $2k, I don't want to lose anymore by staying in.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    Re: Re: Nice poker play

    and the statutory maximum is like the cap too.

    So you can bluff (seek huge damages and ask for a settlement) and hope the other side folds (settles).

    The other side can call (continue the lawsuit and not fold).

    The other side can bet (counter sue).

     

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  8.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    monster fight

    It's like Godzilla vs. Mothra.

     

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  9.  
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    cc (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re:

    TY.

    If I were one of those content creators I would feel seriously offended by Warner's behaviour.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Re:

    So your idea of supporting the military is exploiting them to promote your advertising campaign?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    "warn a brother"

    LOL
    up up and away

     

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  12.  
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    Seamus, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 10:20am

    Spell out acronyms

    Using acronyms may make you sound smart and in the know, but failing to spell them out so people don't know what you're talking about is annoying.

     

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  13.  
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    Matt (profile), Aug 19th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    Re:

    Wait, why not? Warner Bros. is harmed by the conduct, and it is an unfair and deceptive act or practice. If Toberoff's clients are not actually receiving any benefit from the lawsuits at all then Warner Bros. has a case. If the plaintiffs are merely knowingly getting a bad deal, Warner Bros. should probably lose. It still has standing - it can complain about another's harmful breach of duty, even if the duty wasn't owed to it - but here it will have no ability to prove the breach. The plaintiffs apparently thought it was a good enough deal to enter into it. Apart from the pot-calling-the-kettle-black issue of the content industry complaining about the unfairness of copyright rules, Warner Bros. has a valid point here. I do not know if Toberoff is one, but unscrupulous lawyers have made an industry out of exploiting stupid IP law to benefit themselves at the expense of society (and sometimes their clients).

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Spell out acronyms

    or maybe he can start a page with a permlink somewhere on the techdirt homepage (www.techdirt.com) called common acronyms where Mike can list all the common acronyms used on Techdirt and others can comment and add their own.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Spell out acronyms

    In fact I think that most blogs should probably have included a permlink that links to common acronyms that get updated periodically. BTW, this idea is not patentable.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2010 @ 5:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Spell out acronyms

    (common acronyms used in that specific blog that is)

     

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


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