The screenwriters behind the original Predator The film and Disney’s 20th Century Studios have agreed to a confidential settlement to drop copyright dueling lawsuits over the rights to the screenplay.
The motion to dismiss the litigation filed in California federal court on Wednesday follows a notice filed Dec. 16 that the parties have resolved claims regarding an attempt by brothers John and James Thomas to reclaim their rights to the script.
Marc Toberoff, of Toberoff & Associates, which represents the brothers, said: “All parties have voluntarily dismissed their claims following an amicable resolution of the issues in dispute.” He declined to comment on details of the deal.
The brothers wrote the screenplay in 1984 and sold it two years later to 20th Century Fox, which published Predator in 1987. They sued the studio last year, alleging it wrongly refused their offer to end its rights to the script.
US copyright law allows authors to recover their ownership rights after waiting a certain period of time, typically 35 years for newer works, by terminating prior transfers.
The brothers claimed that new Predator the works would simply require a license from them, allowing them “finally, to participate in the financial rewards of their creation”. They pointed out that they had written the screenplay “to specification”, with no guarantee of compensation or input from the studio.
If a work is “made for hire”, the employer, in this case 20th Century, is considered the legal author under copyright law.
Disney’s 20th Century filed its own lawsuit hours after the brothers filed their lawsuit. The studio alleged that the copyright termination notice sought to prematurely sever its rights.
“This action is necessary because defendants are wrongly attempting to prematurely terminate 20th Century’s rights to the Hunters script, just as 20th Century is investing significant time, money and effort in developing a another aspect of its success. Predator franchise,” the lawsuit reads.
The litigation was fought as Disney moved forward with plans for a reboot of Predator, which spawned three sequels and the spin-off film series Alien vs Predator.
Studios increasingly turn to court as Copyright Act termination rule threatens to transfer ownership of iconic films including The Terminator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and die hard, back to their original owners.
Victor Miller, who wrote the screenplay for the original Friday 13, is set to reclaim its rights to the franchise after a federal appeals court upheld its victory in a copyright lawsuit.
Disney and its attorney Daniel Petrocelli, a partner at O’Melveny and Myers LLP, declined to comment.