Friday The 13th fans: we may finally have a resolution to the ongoing rights battle.
Screenwriter Victor Miller has won a summary judgement in the U.S. District Court against the producers of the film, including Sean Cunningham. The producers filed a lawsuit against Miller well over a year ago after Miller attempted to reclaim ownership of the property. There is a provision in copyright law that would allow an author to end a current agreement of rights and reclaim ownership after 35 years have passed form the publishing date. Cunningham and others have tried to say that Friday was written as “work-made-for-hire” and that would mean that they keep the rights and Miller wouldn’t be able to terminate the agreement they had made because he had no ownership. Miller argues that it was not work-made-for-hire, and there was never anything put in place that said it was. Cunningham argues that he came up with the idea, hired the creative team, raised the funds for the film, and controlled all creative decisions on Friday The 13th. He also says that since Miller is a member of the Writer’s Guild, they used a standard form that made it very clear Miller was an employee.
Now, this doesn’t mean its over. The courts decision only cover the US, so the producers could still retain overseas rights. Also, another battle could loom of trademarks like “Jason Voorhees” and such, as this only covers the first film. As everyone knows, Jason is not the maniac we all know and love until the sequel. That also complicates things. This judgement has already taken a year, and the full opinion is still to be revealed.
Until it is, Jason waits, lurking in the shadows. This case has prevented more films and such from coming out, even when they were on the brink of going in front of cameras. It also made life a living hell for the producers of last year video game. Hopefully this all finally untangles itself soon so Friday The 13th fans can see their favorite hockey-wearing maniac on the big screen again soon.