Friday the 13th Creator Wins Domestic Rights

By RodneyHatfieldJr for Movies

A huge victory for creators everywhere. This is the case some of us have been waiting for two years now. We finally get a decision over the Friday the 13th legal battle that has been raging on for several years now, and we finally have one.


Before we get too far, a brief little recap:

A judge ruled back in 2018 that Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller is the sole owner of the original screenplay (in the US), Friday director Sean Cunningham has been working to have the decision reversed. The argument continues to be that Miller wrote the screenplay as a “work-for-hire,” and therefore never should’ve been able to gain rights to the screenplay in the first place. While the trial judge had ruled that the rights go to Miller after all these years under the Copyright Act’s termination right, which allows authors to regain rights to work they signed over to a company, Cunningham and Horror Inc. were hoping that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals would end up reversing that decision. The Second Circuit was deciding if Miller will keep the rights to the Friday screenplay, as decided in 2018, or if they’ll revert back to Cunningham/Horror Inc. Naturally there will be a lot to be worked out before we see Jason on the screen. But this is one massive legal hurdle that needed to be resolved.


Fast forward to this week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the District Court’s previous order, rejecting the argument and concluding that “Miller was an independent contractor when he wrote the screenplay and is therefore entitled to authorship rights.” Summary judgment has been awarded, therefore, to Victor Miller.

So what does it all mean? For starters, owning the original screenplay doesn’t mean Miller owns the character of Adult Jason Voorhees as we know him, plus the setting, lore, and mommy Voorhees. Plus Miller’s ownership of the work only covers domestic rights. Hopefully now Miller and the studio can come together and give us more Friday. 

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