Feeds

Dick estate gets stiffed

Do writers dream of electric royalties?

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The family estate of science fiction writer Philip K Dick has dropped a vexing lawsuit against movie producers Media Rights Capital and filmmaker George Nolfi, the team behind the film The Adjustment Bureau.

In October the Philip K Dick family launched a legal attack against The Adjustment Bureau team, which wouldn't agree to pay royalties from the 2011 film starring Matt Damon.

The film producers claimed that they were not liable for a kind of royalty payment because the story that formed the foundation of the film was “in the public domain.” Philip K Dick wrote the short story The Adjustment Team in 1954, a tale about a group of men who tinker aka ‘adjust’ the lives of ordinary people.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the Dick estate claimed Nolfi approached it in 2001 seeking rights to The Adjustment Team. The estate agreed to license the story, with Nolfi saying he would make "substantial payments" to the trust if the movie ever got made.

Some years later, Nolfi and MRC paid the estate $1.6m to exercise an option to produce the movie for Universal Pictures. However, a month after the film was released in March 2011, Nolfi and MRC made a claim that because The Adjustment Team was in the public domain, the should be able to make the movie without paying the trust anything.

In February, a court dismissed all of the Dick estate's contract-related claims without prejudice, leaving only the copyright matter, and saying that it didn't have jurisdiction over the copyright claims.

The issue of royalty compensation and copyright revolves around when the Adjustment Team story was first published. The film-makers assert that the story had first been published in an periodical called Orbit Science Fiction in September 1954 but the Dick estate claims that the 1954 publication was a mistake and that the actual first publication came in 1955. The difference in publication timing is crucial because it would mean that under US federal law, the story fell into public domain before the Dick estate filed for a copyright renewal in 1983.

The Dick estate’s suit claimed: "Motivated solely by greed, defendants seek to establish themselves as a de facto ‘Adjustment Bureau’ of Hollywood. Using heavy-handed means, they seek to ‘adjust’ agreements entered into long-ago agreed, ‘adjust’ determinations made long ago by the US Copyright Office, and even ‘adjust’ history so as to hoard any and all monies rightfully earned by the estate of the man whose genius inspired what is indisputably a highly successful film.”

The Adjustment Bureau film is understood to have made about $128m worldwide, on a production budget of $50.2m.

The lawyer representing the Dick estate, Justin Goldstein, said: “The judge’s ruling and our decision to dismiss the remaining portions of the federal case had nothing to do with the merits of any of the claims. The judge only concluded that state court is the appropriate venue for the dispute.” ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.