Monday, April 30, 2007

Legal Advice Sought

Below is the full text of an e-mail I tonight received from Fox IP. They're trying to pressure me into removing the scathingly negative review I posted of their Wolverine script. As far as I can see, there's no reason for me to remove the review. It's a review! So, please, take a look at the letter and if you're legally trained, please leave genuine advice in the comments. I don't want to take the review down if I don't have to. People are interested in it.

Oh, and by the way - the script is bad. And it looks like Brett Ratner is the front-runner to direct. Sorry, Wolverine fans.

Dear Mr. Connelly,
We have recently learned that (hereinafter "You" or "Your") has posted a review of the unpublished screenplay for Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation's ("Fox") proposed "Wolverine" motion picture film (the "Film") on your Internet website at without authorization from Fox. Such unauthorized use infringes the intellectual property rights in and to the Film owned by Fox and its associated entities. Therefore, we must demand that you immediately remove the review from your website. We further request that you provide written acknowledgment to the undersigned that you have ceased the infringing conduct complained of herein.
Should you refuse to remove the review and provide written acknowledgement by close of business on Wednesday, May 2, 2007, we will consider exercising all remedies available to Fox, including taking action against you without further notice to you.
Please note that this correspondence is not a complete statement of Fox's rights in connection with this matter or a complete listing of Fox's possible claims against you, and nothing contained herein is intended, nor should be construed, as an express or implied waiver of any rights or remedies that Fox may have relating to this matter, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.
Jason Zedeck
Senior Counsel
Intellectual Property
Fox Group Legal
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900
Fax: (310) XXX-XXXX


Peter said...

I'm pretty sure that Fox has no legal basis for this, it's probably just a scare tactic. But I have no legal background to back that up.


Andrew said...

This is *THE* chance to expose Latino Review as a sponsored mouthpiece of the studios. You'll notice that they claim to have an "exclusive" review of Wolverine, that is AS USUAL, positive. How about you let Fox know that you'll turn around and attack their unwillingness to go after websites that publish supposedly insider information for their benefit, possibly in exchange for reward. Seriously, there is no reason a site like this should be taking it from the studios for doing what's in the best interest of your audience. Take it from me... I don't even like you guys, and I'm on your site.

Anonymous said...

LEAVE IT. Hah. They have no case. We like FilmIck because it posts these types of objective-criticism-exclusives that AICN used to. Also, if they're flying you out and dining you like Harry Knowles, they especially don't have a case. Stick to the man for lovers of film, I know you will.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome!!! You should have it framed! LOL!

I doubt there is anything legal they can do, but I am no lawyer.

Go Brendon!!!

Mark said...

Well, this is what we were taught in good old journalism 101 as "the chilling effect". If you had included even lengthy extracts from the script, you could use fair use as a defense. You haven't even done that, there's clearly no libel, and the courts can't enforce on matters of opinion. I don't even think they could legally force you to reveal your source.

verbal said...

ain't he a sweetheart

Anonymous said...

don't respond to the letter.

that last paragraph is some seriously eyeroll-inducing, nauseating bad legalese bullshit.

keep the review up. it's an opinion. they're just trying to scare you. you're not selling anything, and as far as i can tell you're not making $ on this blog. fuck 'em.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I think you're dead. Close your business as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

You might like to get in touch with these guys:

Anonymous said...

tell 'em to kiss your arse. And when they have done that tell 'em to kiss mine to!!!

Anonymous said...

Try contacting Harry at
he and his staff have had a lot of experience in this area.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lawyer in Canada so I don't know how appropriate my advice is. In my opinion, your critique is not illegal nor is it an infringement on their intellectual property.
Actually, here is where I would consider this a threat and nothing more. They refer to it as infringing their "inteleectual property rights", but what does that mean. They are not claiming copyright or trademark or anything else. Intellectual property rights is so broad it could encompass anything, and I would think it too broad to enforce in a court of law. Do I think they may follow up on this? Yup. Even if it is only to be a pain in your ass, cost you money and scare you into not reviewing further Fox scripts.
What I would do in the meantime is remove any quotes from the script that you included in your review. Without properly citing them and receiving permission you are violating a copyright (assuming the script has been copyrighted).
I would not ignore this, and strongly advise you to seek out legal counsel. I assume from your address that you are in the UK. If that is so, and you never intend to leave in the US and US-UK reciprocal enforcement laws are not great, you may have nothing to worry about if they pursue because enforcing the judgment would be impractical. Quantifying damages on the part of FOX could be difficult - would have to wait to see how the movie does.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that their opposition isn't to the critique itself (nothing in their letter indicates that to me at all). I think their problem is that you even have a copy of the script in the first place.

Anonymous said...

i don't know how things work in the uk, but here in the u.s. fox could send the same letter to your isp and they WOULD cave.

i have absolutely no legal training or experience but it seems to me YOU have nothing to worry about but you might need to find another host.

James said...

I am not a lawyer, but I enjoyed the hell out of the review. I don't believe that they can actually do anything to you, considering that you didn't actually post the script up there, if that was the case, then they'd have a case, but to be honest with you - it's a scare tactic and nothing more. FOX is famous for cancelling good TV shows, and making shitty movies. Anyway, don't take it down, and good job with the site. I thoroughly enjoy it.


Richard Brunton said...

Hey Brendon.

I'm having a similar thing on my personal site from a rather large UK company trying to have me remove a review and all associated comments.

If I was in the US then I'd be fine, the law is with the blogger as a "common carrier" of information not a "publisher", but there's no such law in the UK.

Whether I'm right or wrong is not the point though, and here's where the connection is, it's the fact that we are up against companies much bigger than us who could go all out to make a test case against us.

They might lose, but it's time and money in the meantime, and if they do then you get your costs back (hopefully) if not...well you can guess the rest.

I would check with a UK lawyer, it's worth the initial cash out just to make sure.

In the end though talk nicely to these guys and try and bargain something nice in return instead of burning your bridges.

Brendon said...

I don't anymore.

It wasn't mine to keep.

So what am I supposed to do now?

It's not as if I PDFed the thing and posted it online.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter how tough you are if your ISP pulls the plug - check it out with someone who knows and for god's sake don't take advice off the internet

Anonymous said...

It's an opinion piece. You haven't posted the script online. They can't touch you.

Anonymous said...

Ok I am an American copyright lawyer.

Apparently they are claiming copyright infringement. Your review, however, contains almost no copying of their material. You include exactly a grand total of one sentence of direct quotation ("You brainwashed me...") and although it's true that the fair use standard is more strict for unpublished material (See Harper & Row v. Nation), quoting *one single sentence* is fair use beyond any possible doubt. Fair use "of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting... is not an infringement of copyright." 17 U.S.C. section 107.
Here, a single sentence from an entire film script is copied for the purposes of criticism and news reporting. Fair use clearly applies here and is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement.

Feel free to forward this back to Fox and ask them to clarify how exactly you're infringing on their intellectual property.

Anonymous said...

god forbid anybody just start cut and pasting the review on forums everyhwere

what would fox do then ?

thats what forum members who come here should do