Director Sues Actress for Using Clips of Unreleased Film on Her Demo Reel

Film Independent and L.A. MediaWorks are also defendants in the suit.
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Jessica Taylor Haid (left) and Robin Bain

Director Robin Bain is suing an actress from her 2016 film Nowhereland, alleging the actress used clips from the project on her demo reel without permission.

Bain is suing Jessica Taylor Haid, also known as Jessica Cesaro, Film Independent and L.A. MediaWorks for copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and conversion. 

The director says she submitted a watermarked version of the film to Film Independent's LA Film Festival in December 2015 and February 2016, and claims the terms did not provide the organization with further transfer rights. The same winter, Haid asked Bain to release scenes from the film so she could add them to her reel and the director "unequivocally" denied the request, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in California federal court. 

Bain claims Film Independent gave Haid a copy of the film and the actress then sent it to L.A. MediaWorks, a company that creates demo and sizzle reels for talent, which removed the watermark and posted scenes on its public website. 

"The Infringing Scenes included a significant amount of unreleased footage from The Film, which taken together encompassed the heart of The Film, as well as revealed the ending to The Film," writes attorney Scott Alan Burroughs in the complaint. "Moreover, LA MEDIA added unauthorized music to the Infringing Scenes that have no connection to The Film, creating an unauthorized derivative work."

Bain is seeking actual and statutory damages, plus any profits gained by defendants as a result of the infringement and an injunction barring them from further infringing on her rights in the work.

Film Independent and L.A. MediaWorks have not yet commented on the complaint, which is posted below.