Victor Miller Wins Appeal To Reclaim Domestic Rights to Friday the 13th
For the last several years now, a legal battle into rights and copyright has been raging on between Victor Miller & Sean Cunningham regarding one of the most successful horror franchises of all time- Friday the 13th. And whilst we have had very little in regards to updates, it appears some progress has been made.
A judge ruled back in 2018 that the Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller is the sole owner of the original screenplay (in the US, at least). The film's director Sean Cunningham has been working to have the decision reversed ever since. The argument continues to be that Miller wrote the screenplay as a “work-for-hire,” and therefore never should’ve been able to gain rights to the screenplay in the first place. While the trial judge had ruled that the rights go to Miller after all these years under the Copyright Act’s termination right, which allows authors to regain rights to work they signed over to a company, Cunningham and Horror Inc. were hoping that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals would end up reversing that decision.
The Second Circuit was tasked with deciding if Miller will keep the rights to the Friday screenplay, as decided in 2018, or if they’ll revert back to Cunningham/Horror Inc.
As explained by The Hollywood Reporter's Eriq Gardener, Victor Miller has now won the copyright termination appeal. Basically, in short, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the District Court’s previous order, rejecting the argument and concluding that “Miller was an independent contractor when he wrote the screenplay and is therefore entitled to authorship rights.” Summary judgement has been awarded, therefore, to Victor Miller. As Gardener explained:
“Barring any reversal before a fuller panel at the 2nd Circuit or Supreme Court, Victor Miller will reclaim the domestic rights to the franchise. A big win for attorney Marc Toberoff as he heads into an even bigger fight against Disney over Marvel characters.”
Don't get overly excited as there is still A LOT to sort out in regards to the entire legal mess, but it's progress for now at least. Owning the rights to the original script doesn't necessarily mean you own the adult hockey masked, machete wielding Jason Voorhees that fans have come to love. Unfortunately I think we'll still be waiting a while to see Jason return to the big screen in a brand new film. If you are looking for a new Jason Voorhees fix though, head over to our "Hooked On Horror Presents The Best Friday The 13th Fan Films" article.