Anti-SLAPP Law Used To Protect Michael Moore's Use Of Video Clip
from the slapp-back dept
It involved a clip that Moore used in his film Sicko, that was sent to him by the subject of the video, but not by the guy who filmed it:
At issue was a snippet of video taken from several hours of tape Aronson shot while touring England with a friend, Eric Turnbow, in 1997. It showed Turnbow attempting to walk on his hands across Abbey Road and falling, injuring himself. It also contained a brief snatch of a song Aronson composed and sang. According to court filings, Aronson's voice and photograph appear in 16 seconds of the tape.Aronson then sued, saying it was a violation of his rights, but the court tossed it out and ordered that Aronson pay Moore for filing a SLAPP lawsuit. Aronson's lawyer, not surprisingly, was not at all happy with the ruling:
Turnbow, a fan of Michael Moore's, sent tape to the filmmaker in 2006. Moore was soliciting stories about health care outside the U.S. Turnbow's shoulder injury was treated in a British hospital, and Moore used it to compare the health-care systems in the two countries. However, Turnbow did not have Aronson's permission to send the tape, and Aronson never signed a waiver, although Turnbow did, according to the pleadings.
"This wasn't a strategic lawsuit," he said. "This is a good man who had his videotape used without his permission."It's definitely true that this does seem to be a rather broad interpretation of a SLAPP, but on the whole, such anti-SLAPP results are a good thing for free speech. Threatening or suing people for making a statement of any kind is problematic if you believe in free speech rights. It will be worth watching to see if there's an appeal in this case, as it could really bring out some questions about the limits on anti-SLAPP rulings (at least in Washington... but it could impact laws elsewhere).