Fox Sues Woman For $15M Because She Aggregated TV And Movie Scripts She Found Online

from the ouch dept

In the latest example of copyright law gone mad, it appears that Twentieth Century Fox is suing a woman for $15 million, because she aggregated various scripts she found online as a resource for screenwriters (like herself) to learn from. The key issue is that apparently one of the many, many scripts she had put together was of a movie that is still in production, and Fox doesn't want anyone to see it. Apparently she was told of the lawsuit by "private investigators," who questioned her for two hours (it's not clear why she didn't throw them out or refuse to answer their questions).

Of course, those who support the current copyright regime will note that these scripts are, in fact, covered by copyright. However, it's difficult to claim that these scripts are somehow likely to act as a substitute for the actual movie for anyone. It's hard to see any losses from such a collection, frankly, but thanks to the fun of copyright law and statutory damages, actual harm doesn't much matter. All that matters is a giant Hollywood corporation has sued a struggling screenwriter for $15 million because she thought she was helping other screenwriters by aggregating example scripts she found elsewhere online for them all to learn from.

Filed Under: aggregation, copyright, scripts
Companies: 20th century fox, fox, news corp.

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  1. icon
    Eugene (profile), 29 Nov 2010 @ 6:30pm


    ....uh, you a script to produce it. That's sort of the point. If you want to use the story in the script, you buy the right to use that story from the scriptwriter, or whoever the scriptwriter sold that right to.

    But scripts themselves are not published works. They have no inherent value, aside from the cost of paper. Which is of course negated when digitizing them.

    Now, if they go ahead and take a script from a popular film, pretty it up, print it on fancy paper, maybe add some director's notes, behind-the-scenes info, some fancy set photos and bind it in a hard cover for your coffee table...then you've created what Mike would call a "scarcity". Which of course you could sell and probably make some money from. No one else could do it, because they don't own the rights.

    But again, they could still just go online and read it with no repercussions.

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