In December 2015, Jared Leto filed a copyright infringement suit against TMZ after they played video footage of Leto critiquing Taylor Swift’s “1989” album and stating, “I mean, f– her. I don’t give a f– about her.” Leto claimed he owned the video because he had hired Naeem Munaf, a videographer, to shoot him in his home studio.
On Friday, Leto lost this claim when District Court Judge Ronald Lew granted summary judgment to TMZ. The judge found that the video was not a work-made-for-hire, as Leto had claimed because no written contract existed during the video’s created deeming Leto the owner. Judge Lew explained, “While other out-of-circuit courts have held that a written instrument for a work made for hire may be executed after the work is created, it is clear based on the statute, the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Schiller, and this district’s ruling in Andreas Acarlsson, the intention is to have the written instrument executed before the work is made to clearly identify copyright ownership. Allowing the written instrument to be executed after the work is created would defeat the purpose of the statute in requiring a written instrument altogether.”
The judge concluded that TMZ had been transferred ownership of the video in December during an email conversation with Munaf who had used a pseudonym Jake Miller. TMZ paid $2,000 for the video, making the videographer’s intent to sell clear even though he had not revealed his name.
Leto states that he fought “back because it was the right thing to do,” and that he will “continue to fight because it is the right thing to do.” On Saturday, Leto claimed his team would be “launching an appeal immediately and are confident the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will reverse the decision.”
Credit: Cristina Gabrielyan
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