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Old 02-01-2015, 03:31 PM   #1
Juno Styles
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Default Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

Thoughts?

From the blog of Tess Gerritsen: MY GRAVITY LAWSUIT AND HOW IT AFFECTS EVERY WRITER WHO SELLS TO HOLLYWOOD
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Old 02-01-2015, 03:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

Without reading the original contract it's difficult to comment specifically. Generally, however, in many such contracts there is a provision for the obligations in the contract to be transferred if the property is on-sold and/or if the ownership of the purchaser changes hands the property rights revert to the original owner/writer or the contractual obligations are re-assigned to the new owner, in this case WB. On the surface it could appear that the original writer has been unfairly exploited, however WB business affairs will be familiar in detail with their obligations under the initial re-assigning of the New Line film rights ownership and would be confident of their legal position before contesting any claim.

The difficulty in all of these situations is that what's fair becomes irrelevant and all that matters is what has been agreed to contractually, or what interpretation the court can be convinced to uphold. It's part of the reason that writers who raise questions here are always advised to seek professional legal advice on any contractual matters and to ask questions, such as "What happens if the company I sell the rights to is bought out by another company?" But it's easy to be wise after the fact. You can be as thorough as possible, but it's difficult to be bullet-proof. I'm not automatically defending WB, by the way, simply saying that legally they may not be in breach of any ownership assignments, and there does appear to be an uncomfortable similarity between the two stories.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

This kind of stuff makes my blood boil. Shame on Curran if he so ruthlessly plagiarised this woman's work.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:14 PM   #4
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

This just seems nuts on the face of it. When a company buys another company it also buys that company's debts and obligations -- and a contract is an obligation.

Otherwise I just make a bunch of contracts with people (in any field of business), then, when I don't want to honor them, sell my company to my buddy and he blows them all off.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

virtually no effect at all

the only thing at issue in this case is what the author had alleged on the face of her complaint

the court dismissed the complaint because it found that the author had alleged no facts to support her contention that the contract she signed with New Line for her book had actually been assumed by Warner Bros. when it acquired that company

copyright infringement etc. was not at issue in the case
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:24 PM   #6
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

Leaving aside the legal mumbo-jumbo, there's an interesting question here, which is: when does a project change so much that it is no longer the same project?

It's easy to imagine scenarios where projects with minimal, superficial similarities are really the same project. It's also easy to imagine scenarios where projects which have many elements in common are NOT the same project.

I hope the studio didn't screw her over. If they did screw her over, I hope she gets what she's contractually entitled to.

On the other hand, it's also a really bad idea to form a strong opinion about a legal case based on the trying-it-in-public statements of one of the parties. This article is the "she said" part of a "he said/she said" fight, and there could easily be relevant facts she's leaving out that drastically change how we might feel about it.
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Old 02-01-2015, 05:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

It's possible that her initial contract with New Line allowed this loophole by not having a clause which dealt with ownership of the studio changing hands.

I did a work-for-hire for a producer, for which my contract stipulates I will be paid "when cameras roll." My lawyer was very careful to add a clause that states, if the current producer transfers ownership of the project to another entity, I will be paid for the screenplay in full immediately. My contract also guarantees me a credit as "screenwriter" regardless of who has ownership of the project.

(Of course, this is all moot since the project is light years away from getting financed. And going forward, now that I'm in the WGA, I think arbitration of writer credits on any new contracts would cover a situation like this.)

If the writer did get screwed, I hope she is able to prevail and win her case. But it sounds to me like her initial deal did not cover all the possibilities.

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Old 02-01-2015, 05:54 PM   #8
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

I'm sympathetic to anyone who feels like they've been screwed over, but this sounds like a writing credit arbitration case for the WGA to resolve and nothing more.

The fact that her lawsuit is seeking a share of net profits exhibits a level of naivety that kind of makes me question her other points.
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Old 02-01-2015, 06:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kintnerboy View Post
I'm sympathetic to anyone who feels like they've been screwed over, but this sounds like a writing credit arbitration case for the WGA to resolve and nothing more.

The fact that her lawsuit is seeking a share of net profits exhibits a level of naivety that kind of makes me question her other points.
Everyone gets net points. They're worthless. Your naivety makes me question your opinion.
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Writer of "Gravity" says her lawsuit affects all writers?

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Originally Posted by BillWilliams12345 View Post
Everyone gets net points. They're worthless. Your naivety makes me question your opinion.
The fact that I have no idea what your point is makes me question your reading comprehension.
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