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Judge Dismisses ‘Deep Throat’ Copyright Lawsuit Against ‘Lovelace’

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by the owner of the copyright of the classic porn film “Deep Throat” against The Weinstein Co., claiming that the biographical 2013 movie “Lovelace” infringed on copyright and trademark rights.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Lovelace” was a look at the life of Linda Lovelace, star of “Deep Throat,” released in 1972. But Arrow Prods., which owns “Deep Throat,” contended that the movie “Lovelace” copied three scenes “word for word, positioned the actors identically or nearly identically, recreated camera angles and lighting and reproduced costumes and settings.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, in a ruling issued on Monday, said that the movie was “entitled to a presumption of fair use,” concluding that its use of the three scenes from “Deep Throat” added a “new, critical perspective on the life of Linda Lovelace and the production of ‘Deep Throat.'”

In determining whether the use of copyrighted material is a fair use, courts have looked to the extent to which it is transformative, and Griesa noted that two of the recreated scenes depicted different actors and different contexts from the original.

In his opinion, he compared scenes from both movies in detail.

One of the recreated scenes was, as Griesa pointed out, “the most famous scene in the movie,” in which a doctor diagnoses Lovelace’s condition and tells her she can achieve sexual satisfaction by performing oral sex, starting with him.

In “Lovelace,” Griesa notes, the filmmakers focus on Lovelace’s inexperience rather than on the sexual encounter with the doctor. They “have removed the sexually explicit part of Dr. Young’s physical examination as well as the famous pornographic scene,” he wrote.

Griesa also found that the filmmakers “did not copy any more than necessary to achieve its creative purposes.” He also rejected claims that the movie infringed on Arrow Prods. trademarks to Linda Lovelace and “Deep Throat” and dismissed arguments that the biopic would create consumer confusion.

He did decline to award attorneys’ fees to the Weinstein Co., finding that Arrow’s copyright claims were still within reason.

 

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