No Second Life for|’Ghost Hunters’ Case

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit refused to resurrect the claims of a parapsychologist and a publicist who accused NBC Universal of swiping their idea for a reality show featuring paranormal investigators. The alleged copycat show is “Ghost Hunters” on the Syfy Channel.

     Parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller sued NBC Universal, Craig Piligian, Pilgrim Films & Television and Jason Hawes, claiming “Ghost Hunters” is a ripoff of Montz’s idea for a paranormal-based reality show.
     Montz said he showed NBC representatives screenplays, videos and other material related to his idea for an hour-long episode where a team of investigators use magnetometers and infrared cameras to track paranormal activity at different real-world locations.
     After NBC turned down Montz’s concept, it allegedly partnered with Craig Piligian and Pilgrim Films to produce the “Ghost Hunters” series on the Syfy Channel. The show stars Jason Hawes as the leader of a team of investigators who travel across the country studying paranormal activity.
     U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper in Los Angeles ruled that Montz and Smoller’s complaint sufficiently alleged a federal copyright claim, but she said the state-law claims for breach of implied contract and breach of confidence were preempted by federal copyright law.
     Montz and Smoller eventually agreed to have the copyright claim dismissed with prejudice.
     They tried to revive their state-law claims on appeal, but a three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit upheld Cooper’s dismissal.
     “As the district court correctly recognized, the complaint is deficient because it alleges state-law claims that are preempted by federal copyright law,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the Pasadena-based panel.

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