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Filmmaker Claims Couple Stole Movie Website

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A web designer hijacked the publicity tools for an upcoming indie film called "From the Rough," the producer claims in Superior Court.

From The Rough Productions LLC (FRP) says that web designer Brian O'Hara transferred the domain name fromtheroughmovie.com to his wife Melanie O'Hara, and "impermissibly retained the website for over 15 months."

He has also allegedly changed the passwords for the film's social network accounts, stolen thousands of promotional materials and taken over a database of people following the movie.

"From the Rough" is the true story of a former swim coach who becomes the first woman to coach a men's college golf team. Starring Academy Award-nominated Taraji Henson, the film also features fellow nominee Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Felton who is best known for his role as Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" franchise.

Producers say O'Hara has demanded thousands of dollars in expenses in exchange for return of the assets.

"From the Rough" producer Michael Critelli is not a party to the lawsuit but is a principal of FRP along with Pierre Bagley's Gyre Entertainment LLC. Bagley, another nonparty, co-wrote and directed the film.

IMDb credits and the official website for "From the Rough" list O'Hara as the movie's production designer.

FRP says that Gyre hired Brian O'Hara to design the "From the Rough" website on a monthly $10,000 retainer. Gyre also employed Melanie O'Hara to assist her husband, the complaint states.

O'Hara held passwords for the movie's Facebook, Vimeo and Twitter accounts, and he later registered the website under Melanie's name, according to the lawsuit.

"In or around December 2011, due to the appearance of insufficient work to justify continuing defendants on a fixed retainer, Gyre (on behalf of FRP) suspended payment of defendants' monthly retainers," the complaint states. "Defendant Brian O'Hara was also asked to provide an inventory of all FRP assets in defendants' possession. On October 25, 2011, via email, defendant Brian O'Hara provided a partial inventory of all assets to date, which included posters, banners, clothing items, brochures, and other promotional items related to the film. In a January 16, 2011 memorandum, defendant Brian O'Hara provided another partial inventory of additional assets in his possession, including the website and some of the social media. However, on information and belief, the inventory was incomplete. For instance, defendant Brian O'Hara never provided the listing of the database (including the names and contact information) of people who signed up at live events promoting the film, registered on the website, or became Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Defendant Brian O'Hara never provided how many names are on the database list nor did he identify the physical medium on which the names are stored. Moreover, defendant Brian O'Hara never provided an inventory of the complete file of photographs taken on the set during principal photography."

O'Hara allegedly refused when Critelli told him to transfer the domain back to FRP. O'Hara also kept FRP's assets and property, the producers say.

"Instead, defendant Brian O'Hara claimed that he needed to incur significant additional expense in order to turn over the assets and that it would take him 15 days of work to transfer the assets; however, defendant refused to provide any explanation why such expenses or significant time was required," the lawsuit states.

O'Hara agreed to return the assets only after the production company pays him $22,500, FRP says.

FRP is represented by Gregory Nylen with Greenberg Traurig of Santa Monica, Calif. It seeks more than $200,000 in damages for conversion, fraudulent concealment, breach of oral contract and accounting.

The law firm declined a request for an interview, and Brian O'Hara could not be reached for comment.

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