Bryce Coughlin, Legal Counsel For Fox Asks Bleeding Cool To Take Down Wolverine 2 Character List

Posted by October 30, 2010 Comment

This is the letter Bleeding Cool just received;

Dear Sir/Madam:

We are writing concerning the recent review of the Fox film project Wolverine 2 (“Film”) that is published on your website at http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/10/28/whos-who-in-wolverine-2/.

While we appreciate your interest in the Film and your enjoyment of the script, the Film is a confidential project in development.  Your purported review provides important qualitative details about character, plot, setting and mood, thereby violating Fox’s rights in and to the copyrights to the screenplay.  As you are likely aware, copyright law protects an author’s right of first publication.  Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 554-55 (1985).  Fox therefore demands that you immediately remove and not re-publish your “review,” in whole or part.

The review is harmful to Fox and to the filmmakers hard at work on the project.  Disclosure of uncontrolled information about the Film prior to its release diminishes the value of Fox’s rights in the Film and deprives the filmmakers of the opportunity to present the film to the public the way they intended.  It also spoils the theater experience for fans who do not want to know even the rough storyline beforehand.

The Film and its screenplay are confidential.  The script you reviewed is Fox’s property, and we consider copies of the script disseminated outside the development process to be stolen property.  We, therefore, require that that you provide us with all information relating to your acquisition of the screenplay, including by identifying the source by which you obtained it.

Please confirm in writing upon your receipt of this letter that you have removed the infringing material.

This letter is without prejudice to any of Fox’s rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Very truly yours,

Bryce

Bryce D. Coughlin

Counsel, Intellectual Property | Fox Entertainment Group

2121 Avenue of the Stars | Los Angeles, CA 90067

Now I’m no expert in US law. But a brief look at the Wikipedia entry for Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises gives a very different reading. There are four provisos for this reading to apply, namely;

  1. The purpose or character of the use was commercial (to scoop a competitor), meaning that The Nation’s use was not a good faith use of Fair Use in simply reporting news.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work was informative.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole was great, as it constituted a substantial portion of the infringer’s work. The Court noted that the infringer could not defend plagiarism by pointing to how much else they could have plagiarized, but did not.
  4. The effect of the use on the potential market for the value of the copyrighted work was also great, because there was an actual harm – the cancelled contract.

Now I’ll probably give you one. But two? Wolverine 2 isn’t non-fiction is it? Three, definitely not. And four, also no. I called Bryce Coughlin up to ask him what’s was what, but he wouldn’t take my call.

Now Bryce knows and Fox knows and you know that Bleeding Cool will remove said item rather than face a nusiance suit from 20th Century Fox. But when talking to previous Fox lawyers about other such letters, they’ve told me that they know the legal request is not valid, but they’re forced to send these out by Fox’s theatrical division against their judgement.

So don’t get angry with Bryce, feel pity instead.

I had a good chat with Chris Claremont about this project last night. Just looking at the character names mentioned, Zen, Shingen, Silver Samurai, Mariko, Yukio and “Frank Sinatra” it does seem to be an adaptation of Claremont and Miller’s work on the title – and Bleeding Cool was the first he knew of it. We also discussed how remarkable it was that, Hugh Jackman aside, a US made blockbuster was about to have an all-East Asian cast…

(Last Updated October 30, 2010 2:31 am )

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