Friday The 13th Rights Up For Grabs In New Lawsuit

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Jason Voorhees prefers the surroundings of places like Camp Crystal Lake, especially when compared to the confines of a courtroom.

That's exactly where the horror icon finds himself these days, however, as his franchise, Friday the 13th, has been in copyright limbo ever since screenwriter Victor Miller started submitting notices of termination in regards to the franchise's copyright registration. What Miller is attempting to take advantage of is a copyright law provision that allows authors to withdraw grants of rights and ownership from other parties (via THR).

The conflict centers around what is considered authorship, and what role he served on the project. Horror Inc. and the Manny Company are claiming he was brought in as a work for hire, and if so he would not be eligible to take advantage of that copyright provision. They have subsequently filed a lawsuit against Miller to bring those notices to an end and reassert themselves as the true rights holders.

"Miller had never written a horror screenplay prior to his being hired by Cunningham and was guided in the process, and directly supervised, by Cunningham. Accordingly, Miller entered into an employment agreement with the Manny Company pursuant to which Miller wrote a screenplay for the Film as a work for hire (the 'Screenplay')."

The companies assert that Miller set to work on the script only after the original idea was created, and thus would not be considered the author of the project. 

"As a result of Miller’s improper actions, a cloud has been placed on Horror’s rights in and to the popular and lucrative Friday the 13th movie franchise and has caused, and will continue to cause, both Horror and the Manny Company significant damages," states the complaint. "In addition to seeking a declaration of the parties’ respective rights, the Manny Company seeks a determination that Miller has materially breached the Employment Agreement, has slandered Horror’s title in Friday the 13th, and has engaged in unfair trade practices."

Until this matter gets settled, fans probably won't be seeing too many Friday the 13th inspired projects leave the station. You can read the full complaint here.