Victor Miller to Reclaim Domestic Rights to ‘Friday the 13th’

by Rob Caprilozzi

Jason Voorhees may be one step closer to appearing on the big screen…but don’t get your hopes up just yet.

A big update to the Friday the 13th legal battle occurred on Thursday as the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a win for Victor Miller in a copyright termination battle. This victory will allow him to reclaim the domestic rights to the franchise, according to a report on The Hollywood Reporter.

As fans may remember, Victor Miller, who wrote the script to Friday the 13th, leveraged a section of copyright law which allows authors to reclaim the rights to what they once created after waiting a statutory set period of time. Friday the 13th producer Sean Cunningham fought against Miller claimed that his screenplay was a work for hire.

The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that Miller was an independent contractor and is entitled to authorship rights.

“The Copyright Act and the NLRA serve altogether different purposes and focus on different economic sectors,” writes Circuit Judge Susan Carney.

Referring to one time the Supreme Court took up commissioned works and works for hire, she adds, “As the Supreme Court explored extensively in [Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Reid], section 101 of the Copyright Act uses a more restrictive definition of employment, one aimed at limiting the contours of the work-for-hire determination and protecting authors — the individual creators of works whose foundational value the Constitution itself recognizes and Congress has expounded upon. In the labor and employment law context, in contrast, the concept of employment is broader, adopting a more sweeping approach suitable to serve workers and their collective bargaining interests and establishing rights (in the NLRA), their safety rights (in the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 651, et seq.), and pay rights (in the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.), for example.”

So, for those of us who don’t speak legal lingo, what does this all mean? According to tweets from former Friday the 13th Part III star turned Copyright, Trademark & Entertainment Attorney, Larry Zerner, Victor Miller owns the name Jason Voorhees and the entire backstory in the United States. Zerner went on to also send a tweet which said “In theory, Warner Brothers could make a F13 movie with Adult Jason, if they come up with a completely different backstory for the character. But in that case, is that Jason? And is it a Friday the 13th movie?”

Keep it locked to Horror News Network for more on Friday the 13th.

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