Weinstein Co. Wins First Round in Lawsuit Against Kevin Williamson Over 'Shadows' Movie Rights

Kevin Williamson - CW TCA Day Panels - 2009
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by The Weinstein Co. against writer-producer Kevin Williamson over rights to a film project called Shadows.

TWC filed the lawsuit in April, alleging that as part of a 2010 settlement over a separate dispute concerning Scream 4, Williamson was given money and in exchange agreed to relinquish control over several other projects, including Shadows.

Williamson allegedly was continuing to assert continued ownership over the property, leading TWC to bring the prolific writer-producer to court.

Williamson, whose executive producer credits also include Dawson's Creek and The Vampire Diaries, attempted to have claims rejected via a demurrer on the grounds that the claims were pre-empted by federal copyright law.

Andrew Brettler, an attorney at Lavely & Singer representing Williamson, argued that TWC's allegations were premised on the idea that Williamson has infringed, or will infringe, the studio's purported rights by exploiting the picture himself. He stated to the judge that TWC was disguising a claim and asking for declaratory relief in a way to avoid the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts.

Judge Mary Ann Murphy rejected that argument, opting for TWC's position that the lawsuit was about the interpretation of a settlement agreement.

The decision to overrule a demurrer was "thorough, well-reasoned and on the money," says Bert Fields, attorney for TWC.

Marty Singer, who also is representing Williamson, expressed confidence going forward.

"There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Williamson ever conveyed the copyright in Shadows to The Weinstein Company," he says. "This is just another instance of the Weinsteins over-reaching. This is not the first time they have engaged in this conduct, nor will it be the last. It is absurd that the Weinsteins claim ownership of a project that they never paid one penny to acquire, nor did they ever receive a signed writing from Mr. Williamson conveying his copyright in the work, as required under the U.S. Copyright Act. We are extremely confident that we will ultimately prevail, and the Court will dismiss this action."

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner