Fox Sues Writer for $15M Over Scripts Shared Online

     November 28, 2010


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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