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Supreme Court nixes ‘Ghost’ copyright case

NBCU request denied as pair pursue claims in state court

The Supreme Court declined to wade into a long-running dispute over who came up with the idea for the series “Ghost Hunters.”

On Monday, the high court denied a petition filed by Pilgrim Films, NBCUniversal, Craig Piligian, Jason Conrad Hawes and Universal Television Networks to hear the case.

Parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist-producer Deanna Smoller claimed that “Ghost Hunters” was repackaged from ideas and concepts they pitched to NBC and its sibling Syfy channel cabler from 1996 to 2003.

In May, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that even though Montz and Smoller’s copyright claim had been dismissed, they could continue to pursue a state-law claim for breach of implied contract and breach of confidence. Pilgrim, NBCU and other defendants argued that federal copyright law preempted those claims, and that the 9th Circuit’s decision conflicted with other appellate decisions.

In its decision, the 9th Circuit said that the breach of implied contract and breach of confidence claims were separate from copyright claims.

“Without such legal protection, potentially valuable creative sources would be left with very little protection in a dog-eat-dog business,” the court said.

The case now heads back to the district court for trial.

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