Author’s Claim Against Sony Pictures Survives

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss a copyright lawsuit from a writer who claims the upcoming Hollywood movie about a rollerblading courier, “Premium Rush,” rips off his 1998 novel, “The Ultimate Rush.”
     Joe Quirk sued Sony Pictures Entertainment et al., and U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg denied Sony’s motion to dismiss.
     Quirk says his 1998 novel “The Ultimate Rush” is about a rollerblading courier in San Francisco. The movie “Premium Rush,” set for release in August, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger in New York City.
     Quirk says he hired agent Matthew Snyder, who distributed pre-release copies of “The Ultimate Rush” to a number of entertainment companies, including Sony.
     “Of the named defendants, however, only Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. is alleged to have received a pre-release copy of the novel from Snyder and to have entertained a ‘pitch’ of it as a possible feature film project,” Seeborg wrote in his summary.
     Columbia, a subsidiary of Sony, is not a party to the motion to dismiss.
     Sony, along with the production company Pariah, director David Koepp and writer John Kamps, argued that Quirk could not prove that he gave his novel directly to them. While calling it a “close call,” Seeborg found that Quirk had raised enough facts to survive a motion to dismiss his breach of contract claim.
     “Quirk ultimately will have to prove not only that a copy of the novel originally provided by his agent ended up in the moving defendants’ hands, but also that each person who accepted it along the way did so with the expectation that payment would be due if the ideas were utilized,” Seeborg wrote.
     “Conversely, however, the moving defendants press too far the notion that they are necessarily insulated from any implied contract claim simply because they are not the precise entities and individuals to whom Quirk claims his novel was submitted. There are circumstances under which the expectation of payment may survive the transfer of a book from one person or entity to another.”

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