UPDATED: Concerning the $15 Million Script-Trading Lawsuit

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  • Mary Snow

    I’m a friend of PJ McIlvaine. In fact I spoke with her on the phone today. And I would like to point out you are posting misinformation about details you admittedly do not fully know. It concerns me because her economic life is at stake and you are spreading conjecture that can too easily become fact in others’ minds.

    You wrote:

    “…which she clearly violated by making available to the public several hundred in development scripts.”

    Several hundred in-development scripts? Do you know this as a fact? Where did you get this information?

    You wrote:

    “…but I do believe that her MediaFire account was deleted first. She then reposted all of the scripts, which subsequently resulted in the $15 Million lawsuit. She was using an assumed online identity on a public forum and, again, I don’t believe there was anyway for the studio to contact her directly. Perhaps had there been, then this entire thing could have been avoided. ”

    When her Mediafire account was deleted, PJ contacted Mediafire to ask why. They assured her there was NO PROBLEM on their end, and indicated she had created some sort of glitch on her end. She had back-up of all files and reloaded them. No one at Mediafire told her they were either ordered to take down her account. Or, that some authority had taken down her account.

    As for her identity — her profile on the message board you refer to has her email address which includes her surname. It still does as of today. Everyone knew her real name. Anyone could email her. Strange that this email address was spammed with a couple 1000 emails, and the provate messages in her message board account was hacked, a couple of weeks before private security showed up at her home to serve her with the lawsuit. Who did this? It would seem either Fox or their investigators may have before filing the suit. They clearly had plenty of opportunity to send a cease & desist letter.

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      Mary, thank you for the information. I was not aware of those facts and I have updated the article to include the information you’ve posted here.

  • Foxyone

    Not all of the scripts cited in the lawsuit are in development. Scripts like “Die Hard” are named. It might be a scare tactic but it’s the kind that will leave scars and damage. Fox is going to push this person to the edge, bankrupting her in legal fees and making an example out of her, and then they’re going to come for the likes of you and they are going to hit harder because you didn’t get the message when you had the chance. See you in court.

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      That’s why I stated:

      And, yes, I know that she was also cited for having several hundred produced screenplays as well. To that, I’m not sure what to say, exactly… because every website I’ve previously listed, including this site, is guilty of that very act. Up to this moment in time, that has been an accepted practice, but maybe the tides are turning. This lawsuit sets a difficult precedent, especially if decided in Fox’s favor on all counts.

      • Foxyone

        Incriminating statements proliferate this website.

        You often take pride in being the one to leak a script onto the Internet. You better get out while you still have the chance.

        • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

          Okay.

        • Guest

          The internet is serious bussiness

  • Mary Snow

    I appreciate your response and corrections, Sheridan. So let’s tighten up a few other factual blips above. The lawsuit (which some people have already accessed online and quoted elsewhere) does NOT cite “several hundred” Fox-owned screenplays. It states:

    “… uploaded and made available roughly 100 other movie and television scripts for which Fox is the copyright holder. ”

    And the only in-development script mentioned in the body of this petition by name is DEADPOOL. That’s it. Not several hundred in-development scripts. Only one.

    Attached to the petition is a list of 79 Fox-owned scripts, all of which have been available online elsewhere long before she ever added them to her library. Odd that Fox sues her for (in their words) “roughly 100,” at 150K each. Then they proceed to list 79 scripts.

    As I said above, I’m not telling tales out of school. A couple people have found the lawsuit online and displayed portions of it. Perhaps you should have checked, too, before stating numbers in your blog. And please know you do NOT have to be a member of that message board to click on a member’s profile and find their email. That was something you could have checked very easily (without membership) before jumping to the conclusion Fox had no way to contact her.

    My point — as everyone online discusses this case and states opinions, conjecture, speculation — there’s is a real woman, with family, with kids, with real-life responsibilities, who is being hung out to dry for keeping an online library she shared with other writers.

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      I have found the case files online and I’m currently reviewing them.

      Everything you’ve stated is true.

      • Mary Snow

        Thank you for taking the time and effort (and cost) of researching this. PJ can not afford a slew of misinformation circulating considering the enormous scope this lawsuit. As you read the petition I believe it will be clear this is all about that one, in-development script. But they have piled on to make an example of her. Simply because they can. Now she’s up against the studio’s deep pockets. A Paypal account has been set up for her defense fund. With your permission, I’ll post it. I’ll check back later to see if it’s cool with you. Thanks again.

        • Jack Y.

          Mary Snow, you should talk to a writer called sc111 on DoneDeal. She’s helping coordinate a defense.

    • gurv

      ” Odd that Fox sues her for (in their words) “roughly 100,” at 150K each. Then they proceed to list 79 scripts. ”

      Not really. The purpose is to achieve an astronomical number in damages — $15 million. Sure, it would have an effect to hear someone is getting sued for $150k… but change that to say that she is being sued for millions – that’s enough to scare the hell out of anyone. Which is the whole point.

  • Mary Snow

    Screenwriter Max Adams has blogged about this case today:

    http://celluloidblonde.wordpress.com/2010/11/27/pj-mcilvaine-goliath/

  • http://twitter.com/MaxKennerly Max Kennerly, Esq.

    Thanks to the magic of the RECAP program ( https://www.recapthelaw.org/ ), you can view the Complaint for free here:

    http://www.archive.org/download/gov.uscourts.nyed.311523/gov.uscourts.nyed.311523.1.0.pdf

    Fox likely doesn’t care if she has any money or not. They want (1) to find out who leaked the Deadpool script and (2) to deter others from posting or commenting on the script.

    Bear in mind, these are the same folks who took a hard knock in the Wolverine fiasco, in which a pre-effects cuts of the whole freaking movie was leaked months before the movie came out. When they see “Deadpool leak,” they think of Wolverine.

    • Mike

      Thanks, Max. Some of the scripts listed on the complaint are available at this site.

      • Willb

        My guess is that regardless of where else you might be able to get the scripts, if they go after her for one script they have to go after her for all of them.

        • Anonymous

          After reading the motion, I don’t think they are wanting to send Pj to the poorhouse, I think they just want her to spill the beans about where the Deadpool script came from, and to take them down. They state that according to the law, they are entitled to the relief of $150k, but it also says at their discretion.

          So tell them where the offending script came from, take down the scripts as they wish, and going forward don’t share anything unless it is public domain, under a Creative Commons license, you have permission from the rights holder(s) or your own work that you hold the copyright to. Doesn’t look like brain surgery to me.

  • gurvn

    mypdfscripts,

    Excellent, well-articulated and well-thought-out article.

    “No one has ever explained to me how their system of reprinting and selling scripts is actually legal.

    Anyone?”

    Simple answer – it’s not. It’s absolutely a violation of copyright law. So how do they do it? No one (to date) has cared enough to sue them over it. Lawsuits are either for damages (money) or principle/effect (scare the hell out of people and shut down others doing the same thing). There isn’t any money in suing these sites (just as there isn’t in suing PJ) — it will cost them *much* more to litigate these type of cases than then they will ever recover.

    As for principle/effect — that’s measured by the damage that is prevented by proceeding with the lawsuit. For these places that sell scripts of movies already released, how is that hurting the studios? At that point, the only damage is really going to be if they are selling a book version of the script and even then… how much money are they really going to make from that book anyway?

    On the other hand, for a tent-pole movie that hasn’t been released the studios see the leaked script as a HUGE threat to their bottom-line. Negative reviews, spoilers… these proliferate and spread across the web and that *can* (whether it does or not is matter of debate) affect the success and profits of the movie. So it isn’t any surprise that they studio would go after someone they perceive as a threat to the success of a major movie they are sinking a ton of money into. I was actually very surprised this script was leaked in the first place (given how tightly studios have held onto the screenplays for films like The Dark Knight and Inception).

  • Mike

    Why would she talk to them for two hours? And how did Fox come up with the 10 Does? Was it after she talked to the two guys or before?

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      The Does were part of the original Complaint. So Fox knows/assumes there are ten more individuals responsible.

  • Aaron2

    This goes to show that SCREENWRITERS are hurting SCREENWRITING. Not the ‘poor economy’, not ‘contest scams’, or anything else. It’s the damn screenwriter’s ignorance that makes it harder for the rest of us to break in. I am glad this happened, but wish it happened a helluva lot sooner.

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      Yes and no.

      Yes, it’s screenwriters sharing the scripts, but it’s also the people actually leaking the scripts in the first place. Once someone hits that SEND button for the first time, a script is loosed into the wild and completely uncontrollable.

  • http://www.junkfoodjunkie.no Ørjan Langbakk

    From a completely outsider point-of-view (ie, I’m not in the US, and couldn’t care less about US law) this cease and desist letter from Fox seems to me completely improper. If you’d posted the script, fine – then it would make sense. But that they can censor talking ABOUT the script? Demand that you remove a review of the script in its current form? That makes no sense whatsoever. Even if the script itself is their property, they can’t force you to un-read it. Stating opinions about subhects is a prerogative in any decent democracy, and it shouldn’t be illegal to post such opinions. To me, taking down the review is a bit of a cowardice. I’m actually pondering getting hold of the script myself now, read it, and provide an in-depth analyzis of the content – not to mention both posting excerpts and talk about this whole lawsuit – if Fox want to make sure they’re hurting sales, potential fans, and creating a bad name for themselves, be my guest. But yes, this is what most decent PR-people would understand would be a David vs. Goliath scenario, and that Fox, no matter the outcome of the actual lawsuit, will lose.

    • http://www.mypdfscripts.com mypdfscripts

      I wouldn’t say that it was cowardice to take the review down. Certainly, it’s my choice and I wasn’t obligated in any way to remove it, but I’ve found that it’s best to deal with the studios while they’re being nice. As I’ve stated, they’re not legally bound to send a Cease & Desist first. They could have hit me with a lawsuit just like they did P.J.

      A C&D is a courtesy. A courtesy to which I will always oblige.

      • Anonymous

        In this case, it was not a courtesy. It was an empty threat. 

        Reviews do not infringe on copyrights–it’s not even an issue. (Think about it. How many reviews have IMDb and Amazon.com published?) Even if you quote portions of the screenplay, that’s still unambiguous fair use (cf http://fairuse.stanford.edu/Copyright_and_Fair_Use_Overview/chapter9/9-a.html). The case they cite, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539, 554-55 (1985), concerned a competitor’s publication of lengthy, unaltered passages–which is a totally different storyThis is just a bully’s tactic to get their way. They would never file suit because the suit would have no merit. If one felt like standing up to the bully, one could file for a declaratory judgment ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaratory_judgment ) on the basis of non-infringement.

  • Penotyler

    This is the letter attached to Fox scripts that strangely never makes it onto leaked internet copies. They’re the most militant of all the studios for protecting copyright.

    SCREENPLAY HANDLING POLICY FOR “x”

    This copy of x must be kept confidential. X derives economic value from the fact that its details are not generally known to the public. In addition, leaks of Confidential Information costs Fox time and money, and Fox will prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

    This policy sets forth Fox’s expectations for handling the Screenplay for “x” and all associated Confidential Information.

    This copy of the screenplay has been prepared for, and entrusted to, you alone. Your name and the unique serial number of your copy have been recorded by the Fox Story Department. Do not copy the Screenplay. Do not show it to anyone. Do not discuss details of the project or any Confidential Information except in direct support of the purpose for which you received the Screenplay.

    The Fox Story Department coordinates distribution of the Screenplay. If someone requests a copy of the screenplay, please forward that request to the Story Department.

    E-mailing digital copies of the Screenplay is strictly prohibited. If you receive an e-mail containing a digital copy of the Screenplay, delete it and notify the Story Department immediately.

    Handle any copies of the Screenplay in a way designed to safeguard their confidentiality. Do not leave them lying around.

    When there is no longer a business purpose to the possession of the Screenplay, please return it to the Story Department. The Story Department will destroy your copy and log its destruction in the Script Log.

    Any questions or issues may be directed to the Fox Story Department.