• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Movie Concept Stolen by Jimmy Kimmel. Do I have any protection.

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

elisabethie

Junior Member
What is the name of your state? CA

We made a short film in 2001 that featured pizza delivery guys being pranked in various ways. Between 2005 & 2006, two of our skits (almost exact) appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. I saw one of them on tonight's show. Another one appeared on The Tonight Show.

The film is circulating around Los Angeles, and available in Vidiots video store. Copies have been sent to MTV among other stations.

I originally registered our movie with the WGA, including all scripts, notes etc. Do I have any protection here? Is there anything I can do?

Thanks,
Elisabeth Garson
elisabeth@thepizzaguymovie.com
 

elisabethie

Junior Member
Thanks for responding.

We don't have a lawyer yet. I'm not sure if it's worth persuing (if we have a chance with things like satire etc.). I'm posting here to see if something like this can stand up in court.
 

shortbus

Member
To prove copyright infringement, you'd have to prove 1) that the Kimmel show had access to your film, and 2) that the Kimmel film is "substantially similar" to yours. What matters is whether they copied your expression, not just general ideas.

For instance, the idea of pranking a pizza guy is not copyrightable. But if you dressed in a gorilla suit and gave a pizza guy a wedgie while playing Shostakovich, and the Kimmel show did the same thing, that would more likely be infringing.
 

elisabethie

Junior Member
The show did copy our idea exactly. The first was an alien musical with the aliens dancing around with pizzas. The second was the pizza guy walks into a game show with a host, a hostess and questions about pizza (they did chinese food). It was almost done (even visually) exactly the same way.
 

The Occultist

Senior Member
That may be, but as pointed out you also need to prove that they had access to your scripts or whatever to be able to steal it. If they were able to just happen to come up with these videos on their own, then unfortunately no infringement has occurred.
 

BelizeBreeze

Senior Member
The only chance you have is to file a John Doe suit and subpoena the show's writing staff to determine if and when they either created the script and from what source, or were given such and from whom?

But the costs of these types of lawsuits are VERY expensive and some courts do not allow such suits or allow them to proceed without other, substantial proof that an infringement suit is possible on the evidence.
 

shortbus

Member
Belize, as usual, is wrong. All the writers were employees of ABC and the pizza skits were works for hire. So you'd just sue ABC / Disney.

If the Kimmel show copied specific expression (including visual setups) then you have a stronger case. You would still have to show the Kimmel writers had access to your film (you would have to take depositions from them.)

Did you register your film with the copyright office? That is a prerequisite to bringing any type of infringement action. If you didn't register it before the Kimmel show used it, you can't get all the financial damages that you'd otherwise be able to get under copyright law.

Get a good lawyer.
 

shortbus

Member
17 USC 411(a): "... no action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until registration of the copyright claim has been made"
 

BelizeBreeze

Senior Member
And as usual, shortstuff can't read. Where did I tell the poster that registration was NOT a requirement? Or is your head so far up your ass your eyes get fogged?

It is a common misconception to confuse copyright registration with the granting of copyright.

The actual issue is whether the author has evidence to prove their claim to copyright, (or if the author is a US Citizen, whether a suit can be filed in court), and this is why registration is used.

Of course, registration is ONLY a prerequisit, NOT evidence of a copyright. That occurs, among other things, with circulation and independent proof of the work OR through granting of a copyright.
 

elisabethie

Junior Member
Based on the discussions, it seems like there's a possible case. How can I find a good lawyer? What do I need to present to them? Anything you guys can tell me is majorly helpful.

Thanks,
Elisabeth
 

Find the Right Lawyer for Your Legal Issue!

Fast, Free and Confidential
Top