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20th Century Studios & Thomas Brothers Settle Predator Copyright Termination Date Dispute

Apparently court will no longer be necessary in the legal battle over Predator. The Jury Trial, originally slated for the 19th of April, has been removed from the docket of the United States Central District Court of California due to both parties coming to an “amicable resolution.”

 20th Century Studios & Thomas Brothers Settle Predator Copyright Termination Date Dispute

According to a report by Reuters, Disney’s 20th Century Studios and creators Jim & John Thomas have settled, agreeing to drop their individual lawsuits filed against each other regarding when the Predator original screenplay “Hunter” should revert back to the writers.

The article indicated that Marc Toberoff, attorney for the Thomas Brothers “said in a Wednesday email that the parties had come to an “amicable resolution.”

So what is this amicable resolution? It is hard to be certain, because these newly competing lawsuits were never a battle about if the Thomas Brothers were entitled to get the U.S. copyright back to their “Hunter” screenplay, just a battle over when.

20th Century Studios had previously acknowledged in their lawsuit that Jim & John Thomas were always entitled to get the copyright of their first Predator script back.

Per 20th Century Studios’ original lawsuit filing:

So is this settlement just about the date when the copyright reverts back to the Thomas Brothers? And if so, when is that agreed upon date? Or did the two parties negotiate further than their lawsuit filings and perhaps struck a longterm deal between the studio and writers. Did 20th Century Studios perhaps buy the Thomas Brothers out and will now retain 100% of the Predator rights? It’s all very hard to tell.

We just don’t know the details of the settlement at this point. All we know is the original lawsuits filed by both parties over the “Hunter” copyright termination date have now been dismissed, and this particular termination date dispute has been resolved.

Hopefully more details will be revealed soon. Thanks to SiL for the tip.

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Comments: 14
  1. Voodoo Magic
    Quote from: SiL on Jan 13, 2022, 09:19:32 PM
    Their filings spoke to the provision's design as a means of a more equitable negotiation measure for writers, and everyone who seems to know what they're talking about seems to believe that was intent.

    We talked about this before. You're refering to the statuary background potion which is exactly what it is, statutory background of the 1976 Copyright Act. It doesn't represent the Thomas Brothers actual claim nor gives us any indication of what the Thomas Brothers motives are and what will they do when or if they reclaim the US Copyright back (even if we all have our personal suspicions.)

    QuoteIt's hardly premature or reading too much into anything to assume there's a good chance this was a financial settlement and not Disney inexplicably handing over the rights to a franchise they're clearly interested in exploiting.

    One can make assumptions, guess, speculate, certainly, but we won't in our article.

    QuotePeople put far too much emphasis on the arguing over dates, as though that was the actual issue at play. It wasn't. They invoked the provision to return the rights; this normally triggers a discussion and negotiation. In this case it didn't, as Fox seemed to just ignore the whole thing, and so they were legally obliged to follow through. When the dates were argued they reapplied to keep their application to revoke open, otherwise they would've lost that bargaining chip.

    We have Miller currently sitting with his "Friday the 13th" US rights back and we have Barker currently sitting with his "Hellraiser" US rights back, with a date decided by settlement. This is precedent enough not to declare what normally happens in cases where authors getting rights back in regards to spec scripts that turned into big franchises.

    QuoteThe issue has always been about rights and their worth, not dates.

    Rights, no proof yet of worth. Lawsuits are literal. These lawsuits were indeed about dates, about when the inevitability of those rights changing hands is supposed to occur. What Thomas Brothers endgame is, what they actually want to do with it... sell it back... always own a piece... negotiate some creative control.. shelve it, we're not going to assume, whatever we believe the odds favor. We're not in the heads of the Thomas Brothers so we won't pretend to be. We'll just report as it unfolds.
  2. SiL
    I suppose it's possible the brothers actually wanted the rights back for whatever reason, but it's incredibly unlikely that was their actual endgame. Their filings spoke to the provision's design as a means of a more equitable negotiation measure for writers, and everyone who seems to know what they're talking about seems to believe that was intent.

    It's hardly premature or reading too much into anything to assume there's a good chance this was a financial settlement and not Disney inexplicably handing over the rights to a franchise they're clearly interested in exploiting.

    People put far too much emphasis on the arguing over dates, as though that was the actual issue at play. It wasn't. They invoked the provision to return the rights; this normally triggers a discussion and negotiation. In this case it didn't, as Fox seemed to just ignore the whole thing, and so they were legally obliged to follow through. When the dates were argued they reapplied to keep their application to revoke open, otherwise they would've lost that bargaining chip.

    The issue has always been about rights and their worth, not dates.
  3. Voodoo Magic
    The Thomas Brothers lawsuit was indeed about dates:
    https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2021/04/18/jim-john-thomas-vs-disney-examining-the-battle-for-predator/

    So was 20th Century Studio's:
    https://www.avpgalaxy.net/2021/04/24/the-battle-for-predator-examining-disneys-complaint/

    Both parties were not fighting if the US rights shouldn't revert to the Brothers, just when it should.

    Some see "settlement" and immediately think there's money involved. It just means they came to an agreement and won't take these lawsuits to trial. The lawsuit wasn't about financial damages. All I can see is they agreed to pay their own legal fees.

    With the HELLRAISER rights, the settlement was about the the date:

    Hellraiser' Writer Reclaiming U.S. Franchise Rights After Lawsuit Settlement
    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/hellraiser-writer-reclaiming-u-s-franchise-rights-after-lawsuit-settlement-4098688/

    Both parties settled amicably in December 2020 that rights would revert to the author December 2021. That is what the Hellraiser copyright settlement was.

    The Predator lawsuits were about dates too. Those lawsuits were indeed settled amicably. I can't assume the two parties wrote up a new contract afterwards for more money. Maybe they did, but that wouldn't be handled through the courts. So we can only interpret the data in front of us.


    May 22, 2022, 09:31:35 AM

    Quote from: SiL on Jan 13, 2022, 05:50:33 AM
    I feel considering the mention of an "amicable" solution it's most likely not an agreement on a deadline, but rather a financial agreement that gives the brothers royalties they feel better reflects the value of the property they helped to create.

    "Amicable" is a law term basically meaning agreed by both parties without dispute. Who knows if the Thomas Brothers and 20th Century Studios went on to strike a financial deal, or are currently in negotiations to, but I wouldn't add extra meaning to that term.
  4. Corporal Hicks
    I think this all over and done with. I know the technicalities of the lawsuit from Fox's POV were over the dates, but unless I'm misremembering, the initial lawsuit was for the copyright and the dates thing was Disney's counter-lawsuit. From what Reuters is saying it seems to me that the whole thing is done with. I've emailed Marc Toberoff to see if he can offer any comment/clarity.
  5. SiL
    I'd absolutely say royalties, in line with the wording of the initial fillings. The provision was enacted to give writers better bargaining power to renegotiate rights and that's what they evoked in their claim.

    Hopefully the brothers now receive a more equitable deal that better reflects the long-term value of their work.
  6. RidgeTop
    Quote from: SiL on Jan 13, 2022, 05:50:33 AM
    I feel considering the mention of an "amicable" solution it's most likely not an agreement on a deadline, but rather a financial agreement that gives the brothers royalties they feel better reflects the value of the property they helped to create. Or at least a deadline for such an agreement to be settled.

    I think it's fair to say people can stop worrying about the Predator franchise getting torn apart at this rate.

    Yeah that's my interpretation as well. It's just not worth it for the Thomas brothers not to make a big sale of the rights as part of this I think. We don't know for certain if it's just a flat out sale, continuous royalties, or what but that's what this sort of thing typically means. Brothers were probably looking for a payday through this whole thing and likely got a handsome one.

    Really good news.
  7. SiL
    I feel considering the mention of an "amicable" solution it's most likely not an agreement on a deadline, but rather a financial agreement that gives the brothers royalties they feel better reflects the value of the property they helped to create. Or at least a deadline for such an agreement to be settled.

    I think it's fair to say people can stop worrying about the Predator franchise getting torn apart at this rate.
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