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Sunday, 26 February 2012

That sinking feeling: will Titanic copyright claim go down without a trace?


From the 'I don't believe it department', this Kat brings you news that on 10 February 2012 a lady by the name of Princess Samantha Kennedy, of Imperial Beach, California, filed an action against Paramount Pictures in the US District Court for the Southern District of California in relation to the motion picture blockbuster Titanic. As we all know, Titanic was a critical and commercial success: it won 11 Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and has earned approximately US $2 billion at the box office. James Cameron is credited as being the writer of this particular production and he duly registered version editions of both the screenplay and the film with the US Copyright Office back in the late 1990s. Princess Samantha however claims that Paramount used her previously unpublished 'copyrights, my novel and scripts' 'written from 1990-1992' to create the film and seeks 'the total amount that they made on this picture' which she 'is informed and believes ... [is] in the amount exceeding $3 billion'. She claims that she 'never saw the motion picture in the theatre and recently saw it play[sic] on television. I have just discovered this'.

Princess Samantha's claim is handwritten and her 'brief description of the complaint' runs to 15 pages. The text is exhausting to decipher, consisting of a single monolithic paragraph; it contains numerous grammatical errors; it repeats itself on several occasions; it includes irrelevant material (such as that her son 'Adam Urich is a disabled autistic person who was commended by President Clinton in the 1990s') and it quotes irrelevant cases (such as that between Chuck Wepner and Slyvester Stallone in 2003 in relation to the Rocky franchise: that case concerned an alleged agreement under which Mr Stallone is alleged to have agreed to pay Mr Wepner a substantial sum for being the inspiration for the Rocky character, it is not, as is suggested by Princess Samantha, authority for the proposition that when people inspire films 'the court let the case go forward after 30 years' for them to claim). Needless to say, it lacked all that one would expect from a properly drafted statement of case.

Here is a taster of some of Princess Samantha's claims:
'I have just completed the studying of the works between my work and what the infringers stolen and without a shadow of a doubt I realize today they have taken my work. I have enough side by side comparisons to show infringement, enough to show a winning case. In my biographies over 500 pages I wrote also about the 1953 motion picture about Titanic, defendants took that and proceeded to copy my dialogue and the rest of my biographies, its expression, name of characters + people on a ship to create the motion picture.'
'I have hundreds of pages of side by side comparisons that a school grader, a child, could easily read to see infringe, that I will present to the court. I have proof that Paramount Pictures had access to my work in writing from them. I have Jack, the artist, Rose, Mary Jane, the card game of the winning ticket, the painting, the car where they make love, the mother in law who hates the son in law and hundreds more, even Lucy.'

'I even wrote in my biographies about my large intestine being removed from ulcerative colitis and paddles to shock my heart back to life felt like a sledgehammer on my chest. The defendant copies "we are looking down into the bowels" "It was like a sledgehammer". He mention the sledgehammer. The card game, playing the game in the movie, I write he won the game, danced around and I wrote, he said "you'd think he'd won the lottery." Paramount writes he won the card game, dances around, rides on his back and says, "it was like winning the lottery." Same copying of my expression and I have over 450 pages of side by side comparisons to show I will win.'
Apart from the fact that the complaint is handwritten (this Kat guesses, on reviewing the signature, that her son has scribed it on her behalf), this Kat thinks that a number of other procedural deficiencies which are likely to sink Princess Samantha's complaint.

First, it does not seem like Princess Samantha has filed to register her copyright for her novels and scripts. Although there are two registrations on in the name of a Samantha Kennedy, these appear to relate to poetry (Selected Poems 1979-1994 (TXu000638165), registered on 2 September 1994, and Nadia (TXu001076195), registered on 21 November 2002). If these were Princess Samantha's registered poems, it is curious why she also did not also register her so-called Titanic novel and scripts at the same time. For US copyright law, the IPKat understands that one at least needs to have filed for copyright registration before one can commence legal proceedings.

Secondly it is likely that Princess Samantha's action is statute-barred on the basis that, in the US, one has only three years from when the cause of action has accrued in which to commence an action for copyright infringement. This Kat has been led to understand that, in such circumstances, a cause of action accrues when one knew or should have known about the infringement. As noted above, Princess Samantha claims that she had not been to the cinema since 1995 and only claims to have seen Titanic recently on television. While this may or not be true, it is a matter of common knowledge that the Titanic movie received huge publicity when it was released and continues to attract publicity right up until today. If she was as integrally involved in the Titanic story as she claims, given her 500+ pages of notes, it seems inconceivable that Princess Samantha could have failed to miss the mere existence of the film in the 15 years since its release.

Merpel, who has watched Titanic several times in the hope that it might eventually have a more cheerful ending, still thinks that Jack Dawson is 'the King of the World' ...

A katpat goes to Chris Torrero for leading the IPKat and Merpel to this item.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is it with fake princesses and IP? This side of the Atlantic, "HRH (or is it HM now?) Edwige Vincent Claudie de Bourbon Pahlavi" supports one of the most...er...colourful patent register scams around, the "European Institute of Technologie (sic)". I'd link to one of her many websites, but it wouldn't be very helpful.

tim maguire said...

There's no registration requirement in US copyright law, but without registration she will have to show that they knew about her work or were likely exposed to it (registration makes certain evidentiary issues easier, but is not necessary to create enforceable rights).

As for when the clock starts ticking, she may be able to convince a judge that she only recently found out, but she'll need more than, "I don't go to movies much."

Sam Funnell said...

From now on, I shall be known as Princess Samantha of Funnell. I shall be claiming Royalties from the makers of Bewitched...

Anonymous said...

Actually, registration is a prerequisite for a copyright infringement suit.

Anonymous said...

My name is Princess Samantha Kennedy and you are messing with my name, some of you left your posts all over the internet and destroyed my life. I have valid copyrights, I worked for Paramount Pictures years ago in a motion picture, I took classes with producers at Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures and I shared the same literary agent. There were two of us that filed this lawsuit, my son, Adam and myself, the judge ruled that Paramount Pictures had access of my work I did write about Titanic, the judge ruled that they had their hands on my work which is intent to copy. We have been advised to sue James Cameron. I have not yet, because I have been in the hospital and almost bled to death internally brought on by the stress of what was done to me on the internet with malice. Try to think twice before some of you go out to destroy a person's life and their health.
Princess Samantha Kennedy
http://about.me/princesssamanthakennedy36

Princess Samantha Kennedy said...

Princess Samantha Kennedy
Was here and I see what is going on here.

Princess Samantha Kennedy said...

First of all I would like to say that I am not a fake Princess, that is my name, you are degrading me and messing with my legal name. Second, the judge ruled that I had valid copyrights and that Paramount Pictures had access to my work, their hands on them which is intent to copy. According to the law, the time a person discovers without a shadow of a doubt that his work has been copied starts the clock. I wrote about Titanic and I wrote over 500 page expose about why I went missing as a baby. My brother had found me over 20 years later and it was on television and in the newspapers. James Cameron has not been sued yet, in his screenplay he claims is original, I found paragraphs, sentences, events and names he copied from mine to create both the characters and events in Titanic. I worked for Paramount Pictures years ago, I studied with producers at Paramount Pictures and Paramount Pictures and I both shared the same literary agent. I have been advised to sue James Cameron, but, because of the stress of what was done to me and done to me by people on the internet, I almost died recently from internal bleeding and I have been in the hospital. A lawsuit against Cameron is most likely. There were two plaintiffs in this case, myself and my son, Adam, who is autistic and very smart, he can read what has been blogged on the internet, he is 26 years old and a few years ago he was commended by President Clinton. I was already a victim in this and I did not need to be a victim again by blogs by people who wanted to drown me or kill me. I am not crazy, stupid, I know my work has been stolen. Princess Samantha Kennedy
http://about.me/princesssamanthakennedy36
http://facebook.com/princesssamantha.kennedy

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