October 28, 2013
In the article, “Case to Watch: Movie Case Raises First Amendment, Publicity Questions” published in Reuters Legal, partner Lee S. Brenner discusses the potential impact of a court case concerning the Academy Award-Winning film The Hurt Locker.
Jeffrey Sarver, former U.S. Army, claims the film’s screenwriter based the script on his life after observing his duties disabling bombs during the Iraq war. In December 2011, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen threw out the case on the ground that First Amendment rights trump rights of publicity when the work “contains significant transformative elements or that the value of the work does not derive primarily from a celebrity’s fame.” The case is currently on hold in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Brenner added that the Sarver case is being closely watched because it might provide instruction on whether the television and movie industries need to alter the way they portray real-life events.