MGM and “James Bond” producer Danjaq LLC argue that they didn’t jump the gun in filing a lawsuit against Universal that claims that the studio is ripping off their lucrative 007 franchise with an upcoming movie called “Section 6.”
Last month, Universal filed a motion for dismissal of the MGM-Danjaq copyright infringement lawsuit, noting that the script for “Section 6″ is being revised and that they have yet to greenlight the project. Universal even suggested that the lawsuit was an attempt to “scare away” would-be competitors to the 007 franchise.
But in a brief filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, MGM and Danjaq contend that Universal “directly infringed” on their copyrights by reproducing Aaron Berg’s “Section 6″ screenplay, distributing copies to entice talent to the project, and then authorizing a revised screenplay that also is infringing.
“Universal has already unlawfully copied and distributed a screenplay that infringes plaintiffs’ rights,” MGM and Danjaq contend in the brief. They also claim that “the law does not require plaintiffs to sit on their rights until Universal deems its revisions to be ‘finished’ or until the movie ‘wraps.'” They contend that the threshold is a “tangible medium of expression,” and that the revisions also are infringing because they amount to a “separate derivative work based upon the Bond works.”
Their brief also claims that Universal has paid Berg $1 million for the screenplay, and “it would be contrary to industry practice, and make no sense, to pay anything close to that amount of money for a screenplay whose characters, plot, key dialogue, themes, settings, etc., the buyer intended to immediately discard.”
Universal, however, has said that it has given assurances to MGM and Danjaq that the “Section 6″ project would not infringe on their copyrights.
A hearing on the case is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on July 28.
MGM and Danjaq are represented by Robert Schwartz of O’Melveny & Myers and Marc Becker of Quinn Emanuel; Universal is represented by Bert Fields and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker and Berg by David Aronoff of Lathrop & Gage.