A Legal Blog by Aaron | Sanders, PLLC

The Good Lie Lawsuit: Why the Lost Boys’ Copyright Claim Will Fail

Who Owns the Copyright in Your Life Story? Nobody.

There is, in my mind, a rebuttable presumption that earnest Hollywood movies are the equivalent of eating overcooked vegetables: you only watch them because they’re good for you, and most of the vitamins have been leached out. Thus, I’ve never watched The Good Lie, an earnest Hollywood movie about the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” who have a remarkable story no matter how you tell it.

The Good Lie gets my attention because it is the subject of an ambitious and astounding lawsuit filed last week in the Northern District of Georgia, which has a fascinating, if misguided, copyright angle. You can read the lengthy (but compelling) Complaint here. The plaintiffs are dozens of Lost Boys who had been interviewed by the early producers of the movie (whom we’re just going to call the screenwriters. Everyone allegedly knew that the interviews’ purpose was to help write a script, and everyone expected a movie to eventually be produced.

The Lost Boys were savvy enough not to give their life stories away for free, but the screenwriters didn’t have a lot of money. The real money would come later, but only after the script was written,…

The movie is really about the three men on the right, not so much about REESE WITHERSPOON.

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Why Twitter Has Nothing to Fear from Sony

The Attack of the $1200-an-Hour Gorilla

Someday, someone will have to explain to me what is so awesome about David Boies. He bills out at something like $1200 an hour, which ought to buy a lot of awesome. But there’s not much awesome about his strategy for suppressing the dissemination of internal Sony documents after the “Guardians of Peace” hack. You might have heard about it.

To be fair, I’m sure he’s at least a pretty good trial lawyer, but there are lots of pretty good trial lawyers. And it’s nice that he uses those trial skills in the service of unpopular clients, such as Napster, George Steinbrenner, the U.S. Government, the SCO Group, Oracle, Andrew Fastow and Al Gore. Even the unpopular require competent legal representation. And just because he loses most of those cases doesn’t mean he’s a poor trial lawyer. It could be that these cases were all hard, and there’s only so much even the best trial lawyer can do with bad facts and unfavorable laws. And he was really gutty to leave Cravath rather than abandon a client. And he once defended the right to free speech when he defended CBS against Gen. Westmoreland

But would you…


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When NDAs Attack! Protecting Your Trade Secrets in Negotiations

A Bad NDA Can Be Worse Than None at All

In business, one of the most routine legal documents you’re likely to run into is a non-disclosure agreement, better known as an “NDA.” They’re super handy because they let you disclose secret stuff to business partners and potential business partners without giving away the farm. A lot of business just couldn’t get done without them. NDAs are so essential to and routine in business that NDA forms are one of the most popular documents on online legal-documentation services, like LegalZoom. There’s kind of a dark side to NDAs, though. If you don’t comply with their terms when disclosing your secrets, you do give away the farm. This might not seem too surprising, but but it is, when you consider that not every disclosure of a trade secret to a third party necessarily eviscerates the sine non qua of trade-secret protection, i.e., secrecy.

She’s too busy doing science to keep track of all those fussy NDA provisions!

Trading Old Secrets for New!

Let’s step back a moment, and I’ll explain what I mean. You can think of trade secrets as having a “trade” and a “secret” component. The “trade” component is whether the…


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