14 January 2022CopyrightAlex Baldwin

Disney settles copyright suit with ‘Predator’ writers

Disney has agreed to drop a copyright lawsuit with two brothers who had written the screenplay for the 1987 action film ‘Predator’.

James and John Thomas co-wrote a screenplay titled “Hunters” in 1984, which was later acquired by 20th Century Fox in 1986 and adapted into the first “Predator” film.

The two brothers looked to terminate 20th Century’s (now Disney’s) rights to the “Predator” licence under Section 203 of the US Copyright Act, which allows the creator of a copyrighted work to terminate the transfer of rights and regain ownership generally 35 years after the date of grant.

They served 20th Century a copyright termination notice in 2016. In response, the media company pointed out that the work was made “for hire” and therefore not terminable and the effective termination date was inconsistent with the timing specified.

The Thomas brothers then served another termination notice in 2021, specifying a termination date of June 2022.

This prompted Disney to launch a lawsuit against the two brothers, claiming that two of the copyright termination notices were “premature and invalid” and sought a declaration that their termination notices were invalid.

But in December, the two parties had announced their intent to settle the dispute out of court, which was followed by a joint stipulation for dismissal with prejudice submitted on Wednesday, January 12.

The US District Court for the Central District of California granted the motion in an order handed down Thursday, January 13.

Both parties will bear their own attorney fees, costs and expenses.

This settlement follows developments in a separate dispute involving Disney, in which scriptwriter's Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez claim that the company used their original screenplay as the basis for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.

In this case, the California court refused Disney’s summary judgment bid on the issue, holding that the case should be tried before a jury.

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