It is not always clear what is “copyrightable” when it comes to television shows filmmakers and screen writers can get into serious trouble if they don’t follow specific television copyright laws accordingly. Lex Lybrand, Austin-based filmmaker watched the June 4th episode of the hit HBO series “Silicon Valley” to shockingly find strong similarities between the episode “The Patent Troll” and his own film “The Trolls.”
“Troll” tells the story of a Texas-based start-up that loses everything to the patent troll, in the “Silicon Valley” episode, the app created by the main characters is threatened by the Patent Troll episode “Silicon Valley” in question Andrew Law wrote, who has written for many other programs including late night with Seth Mayer.
Lybrand wrote “The Trolls” in 2014, shot it in 2015 and premiered it in Austin in March 2016. According to him, the indie film is not unknown to HBO in fact, he had conversations with them a couple of years ago about the film, Lybrand has yet to take legal action, he said his film was funded by an intellectual property law firm Cesari & Reed LLP.
Copyright infringement, comes to movie script
Jed Wakefield of Fenwick and West recently discuss Lybrand’s case and the impact of copyright infringement when it comes to movie script. Wakefield focuses his practice on IP litigation, with an emphasis on trademark, copyright, trade secret and right of publicity matters, as well as licensing, technology transfers, and other commercial disputes. He also represents technology companies in advertising, privacy, unfair competition and other consumer related issues. There are many legal implication of copyright infringement in the gaming, movie and television industries depending on copyright for protection.
James Cameron by individuals claiming that his science fiction films including Avatar and Terminator films infringed their different works. These cases have generally been unsuccessful, and court has awarded Cameron his attorney’s fees. The MPAA often advocates for stronger copyright laws and ever-increasing damages, particularly when it comes to intermediary liability. But companies and individuals operating in these industries also find themselves on the receiving end of copyright lawsuits in these sorts of alleged plagiarism cases, where the risk of high damages awards can force parties to settle even dubious claims.
On the side of comparisons the filmmaker prepared to show supposed infringement in entirely unpersuasive, according to Wakefield. He represents real Silicon Valley technology startups in litigation all the time, and the fact pattern that these two stories present he also said these plot elements strike me as wholly unoriginal. Even the use of the term “troll the trolls’ does not seem to be original to his filmmaker.
Protection from the copyright infringement
Wakefield advises that authors keep records and notes of independent authorship, and they should register their works. He added, “Any author asked to review someone else’s script or treatment should think twice before doing so, and should return unread materials. Individuals and businesses should not enter into nondisclosure agreements without a good reason for doing so.”
“Many Hollywood movies take their inspiration from other movies or works or go even further without running afoul of the Copyright Act,” he explained. “Copyright law does not protect scenes or plot elements that are common to a genre.”