Hollywood’s big productions attract complaints as magnets. The complaints receive in the mail the legal departments of the big film producers seek compensation or economic agreements for infringing any protected right. At other times, as usually happens in biopics – biographical films – simply seeks to protect the public image of a known character.
The last case known has as protagonists the Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, his new film Colossal and the producer Voltage Pictures. The plaintiff, the Japanese company Toho, claims that the tape advertises and sells “an unabashedly” an unauthorized film version of Godzilla and infringes on the property rights of this character, which he owns.
For Pablo Hernández, responsible for the area of media and entertainment of the firm Elzaburu, this situation is quite surprising. “Producers take great care in the licensing of the rights they need, thus protecting themselves from all problems arising from lack of authorizations, as in this case.” The lawyer understands perfectly the performance of the Japanese producer and states that if the rights holder has indications that a film is attempting against one of them, “it is normal to warn you as soon as possible, in order to avoid being understood That there is some kind of tolerance or that the holder does not consider that it is an infringing use “.
The most surprising thing about this issue is that Vigalondo has not yet started filming Colossal and Toho’s complaint is based exclusively on the press dossier he distributed among different investors at the last Cannes Film Festival to get funding. This means that Vigalondo has used the image of the famous Japanese monster in his presentation notes, but could dispense with his services in the film.
For Hernández, this aspect, however, does not seem to remove Toho’s legal basis for filing a complaint. “If the character of Godzilla did not finally appear in the film, the Japanese producer would not appeal to a case of copyright infringement, but it could denounce the filmmaker for unfair competition or infringement of trademark rights.”
Hernandez points out that the most common cases of complaints are centered on intellectual property issues, as has happened with the film about the character of Sherlock Holmes , Mr. Holmes , in which the heirs of Arthur Conan Doyle have denounced the producer of the Tape for not paying royalties on the works on which the film is based.
However, the lawyer said that they usually do not have to do with the main contents of the film – as in the case of Vigalondo – for which the authorization is obtained and the operating licenses are paid. “I would say that the most common cases of license failures have to do with non-main content, where there may be certain oversights. In this case, we would be talking about pieces of music, designs, drawings or accessories”, explains the lawyer.
Marvel and Disney, producers of the blockbuster Iron Man who are currently preparing their fourth installment, are facing a lawsuit filed by cartoonists Ben and Ray Lai for the design of the armor of the eccentric superhero. The Lai brothers allege in their complaint filed in Massachusetts federal court that the armor used by Iron Man is a clear copy of the designs developed for the character Radix created by the Lai for a series of comics published by Horizon Comics Productions. The brothers have applied for a million dollar damages and damages to the producers of this franchise, Marvel and Disney, as well as a percentage of the box office winnings. The court has not yet ruled on the case.
Another issue aside are biographical films – biopics – that present other types of legal problems. In this case, most of the putlocker films delay their premieres by the intervention of the heirs of the protagonists of the film. “If the person has died, the jurisprudence indicates that the rights of the personality (voice, image, intimacy and honor) do not survive. However, the Constitutional, in the Paquirri case , also maintained that there was a family intimacy, and what It is said in a film about a deceased can expand in such a way that affects the family environment of that person, which means that biopics productions must take these circumstances very carefully to avoid incurring unnecessary risks.
As for the efforts that relatives can make to hide dark and ambiguous events about the protagonist of the film, Hernández appeals to the formula of the exceptio veritatis . “If there is truthful information, it is publishable even if it damages the right to honor.” This primacy, however, does not operate in the case of the right to privacy where the public interest is not recognized to know this data of the person. It would have to study in each case the personality rights that are affected in order to decide if it would be applicable, “Hernández concludes.