Judge Rules 'We Are Marshall' Didn't Violate Anything But Sports Movie ClichesWed Oct 22, 2008 @ 10:04AM PST
By Eriq Gardner
The plaintiffs in the case were two documentary filmmakers, Deborah Novak and John Witek, who collaborated on the 2000 documentary "Ashes to Glory," which told the story of the Marshall football team after a 1970 plane crash killed most of its members. In the lawsuit, they argued that the defendants became interested in developing a film based on the Marshall story and contacted the two about optioning the rights to "Ashes of Glory." The parties failed to reach an agreement on the financial terms and conditions and the defendants went ahead with the project.
In his ruling, California district judge Gary Feess calls the events surrounding the Marshall football team "matters of public record which cannot be copyrighted" and dismisses a breach-of-contract claim on grounds the plaintiffs "clearly understood that they had no agreement" to breach.
The full decision after the jump:
Here's a copy of the decision.
The case, where the defendants admitted to seeing the plaintiff's work and opening up negotiations to license it, just goes to show how tough it is to win on these claims.