Friday The 13th Rights Battle Update With Victor Miller Rebuttal And Possible Verdict Dates

As we mentioned back in July, the deadline for Victor Miller to file his rebuttal (brief) to Sean Cunningham's appeal for the Friday The 13th rights was yesterday and Entertainment and Copyright lawyer Larry Zerner had a nice update via Twitter yesterday about Victor's brief.

Victor Miller's brief in the #fridaythe13th appeal was filed late last night.  There were no real surprises.  For those of you who don't remember, Victor won at trial on summary judgment, the court ruling that when Victor wrote the F13 script, he did so as a work-for-hire.

Horror Inc. (Sean Cunningham's company) appealed the ruling. In order to win, Sean has to convince the Appellate Court that Victor was an employee when he wrote the script and not an independent contractor.

To that end, in his opening brief, Sean put forth the novel theory that because Victor's contract was under WGA jurisdiction, Victor must automatically be considered an employee because only employees can be covered under union contracts.

The bulk of Victor's brief deals with this argument and pretty much calls it out for 1) being ridiculous, 2) having no legal support and 3) not being in line with U.S. Copyright law. 

The rest of the brief covers the normal arguments over the factors taken into account when an author is an employee or an independent contractor under current U.S. law.  It is fairly standard and tracks what was argued in the trial court.

I still think that Victor has the (much) better argument and, while nothing is certain when dealing with judges, I would say that I expect Victor to win his appeal.

 Also posted yesterday was a really nice write-up by The Hollywood Reporter about the case whereas the article debates if Horror Inc. has a case with their stance that this ruling could destroy the unions in the entertainment industry? Read on for a brief piece of the article:

From The HollyWood Reporter
In the meantime, is the producer of Friday the 13th right? Is there about to be massive upheaval the other way — employees become independent contractors and entertainment guilds crumble — because of some copyright termination case in Connecticut?

On Tuesday, Miller's attorney Marc Toberoff took a shot at poking a hole in the producer's logic. His opening brief (read here) includes a trip down the Hollywood memory lane back to 1938 when the right of screenwriters to collectively bargain was recognized by the National Labor Relations Board.

Members of a labor union are free to work as an independent contractor, states the brief, and guilds such as the WGA, SAG-AFTRA and DGA negotiate the working condition of independent contractors, too.

If everything follows the way Larry Zerner has outlined, we will not see any kind of resolution until the middle of 2020.