Fox Sues Writer for $15M Over Scripts Shared Online

by     Posted 3 years, 246 days ago

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Christmas is the season of giving, but it looks like Fox is looking to get a little back this holiday. The studio is suing P.J. McIlvaine, along with ten unnamed defendants, for allegedly sharing some seventy-nine Fox scripts. McIlvaine, who has two screenwriting credits to her name, assembled the scripts as .pdf files in a MediaFire cache, purportedly for the purpose of educating other screenwriters. While the vast majority of these films are older, the sore point for Fox appears to be the script for Deadpool, which is still in production and not scheduled to be released until 2012. More after the jump:

Fox has reportedly been pursuing legal action against other online outlets that have published or linked to the leaked script. However, this and all the other scripts listed in the filing have been available from various sources for some time. The fact that McIlvaine is being targeted here suggests Fox has singled her out in order to make a point, an interpretation supported by the massive damages being sought: $15 million for 79 scripts, according to TorrentFreak.  That works out to nearly $200,000 per script, which seems excessive for such aged films as Aliens, Edward Scissorhands, and Wall Street.

Fox contends that publishing the scripts harms fans who don’t want to know a film’s story before they watch it, but the real thrust of this legal action is clearly to send a message to other sharers to watch out. While studios certainly have a right and an obligation to protect their intellectual property, people who spend hours poring over old film scripts are the medium’s most dedicated fans, and Fox’ extreme course of action in this case seems likely to alienate these fans and add more harm than help to their overall image. McIlvaine is seeking public help to defray expected legal costs.




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  • rbevanx

    I hate Fox.

    This just reminds me of them suing WB for Watchmenn which was unfair on WB. Their films flop so they look for other areas to make money just like then. Now they wanna sell scripts to old classics of their films by the sound of it.

    The whole “publishing the scripts harms fans who don’t want to know a film’s story before they watch it” is clearly just lawyers or execs talking. The people who download the script are people who have watched it in the cinema or bought the DVD and just wanna learn the process on how the film went from page to screen.

    I agree with action on people who download the films but not the scrips, it’s rather pathetic tbh and just gives more fire for people who download the films in protest of companys like Fox.

    Well done Fox just scored another own goal with film fans and your customers.

    • TragicVillain

      You do realize that “their films flop so they look for other areas to make money” seems a bit ill-informed in light of Fox being the studio behind the distribution of Avatar…the film that has the current record in Box Office earnings?

      • Rbevanx

        No not really.

        Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, May Payne, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Knight and Day etc etc.

        They make a lot of flops, just because one film is successful doesn’t mean the whole studio is.

      • TragicVillain

        If you’re only talking domestic box office – then yeah, that’s a pretty sad lot of movies right there, but almost all of those did well overseas and can hardly be called flops from an international box office standpoint.

        A-Team, Predators, Date Night, Hot Tub Time Machine, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

        I can’t defend any of those movies really, the Fox lineup has sucked consistently for awhile, but your memory seems selective, and your definition of flop doesn’t account for international box office.

  • InfiniteMonkey

    Another blunder by Fox. Seriously? They’re not making money off of a first draft anyway and that’s probably what it was. Its not like its the bloody final. From the initial reports, this looks to be a sure hit for them regardless of the script being the first draft or the final. People are still going to flock to the theatres to see this movie anyway.

    If they sue someone, it should be the bloke who was responsible for its secrecy. Obviously the bastard failed at keeping it secured and most likely uploaded it on the internet willingly. WTH? That should be grounds for firing not the person who found it already on the internet, she should not be sued either.

    Such is the state of the economy I guess, Bastard companies like Fox will do anything to acquire or rather recoup what money they have lost during this anemic economic downturn. Pathetic.

    • http://twitter.com/cablebfg Bill Graham

      This is more the state of the internet in these times. Sites like Script Shadow review countless unproduced scripts and give them grades. It’s like getting an F at the box office before films even get the green light. It makes writers cautious, and studios protective. Studios have become increasingly paranoid about films getting early reactions these days. Look at some of the techniques they utilize in letting the press into screenings. Some films don’t even have official press screenings, or are held at midnight the day of release.

      This is absurd though. There were a number of different routes that could have been taken here.

      • jamais

        True about studios being paranoid, but I don’t see what Script Sahdow is doing as “giving grades”. They review EARLY drafts of screenplays and, if anything, they point out how the scripts could be improved. That’s not doing harm, it’s trying to help in my books.

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  • Anonymous

    They should quit making long-ass trailers if they don’t want to spoil the movie.

  • http://sites.google.com/site/deansolomonversus50does/the-411 Jonesy

    There’s another on-going script-trading lawsuit filed six months prior to Fox vs McIlvaine. But this one wasn’t launched by a studio; it resulted from infighting between the script traders themselves. Briefly, the owners of a private script-sharing site kicked out one of their members who happened to be a lawyer. So of course the lawyer sued them for 5 million bucks. More here, including all court documents: http://sites.google.com/site/deansolomonversus50does/the-411

  • http://sites.google.com/site/deansolomonversus50does/the-411 Jonesy

    There’s another on-going script-trading lawsuit filed six months prior to Fox vs McIlvaine. But this one wasn’t launched by a studio; it resulted from infighting between the script traders themselves. Briefly, the owners of a private script-sharing site kicked out one of their members who happened to be a lawyer. So of course the lawyer sued them for 5 million bucks. More here, including all court documents: http://sites.google.com/site/deansolomonversus50does/the-411

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