Some bad news for Jared Leto after a California judge tossed his lawsuit against TMZ, ruling that Leto never owned the rights to the controversial video in which the “Suicide Squad” star dismissively slams Taylor Swift’s “1987” video, stating: “I mean, f*** her. I don’t give a f*** about her.”
The video — to which Leto claimed he held the copyright — made waves when it wound up in the hands of TMZ, which published it online. The “Dallas Buyers Club” Oscar-winner took TMZ to court, suing the gossip site in a copyright infringement suit claiming TMZ unlawfully published a video that he owned.
The judge, however, disagreed, reports The Hollywood Reporter, agreeing with TMZ that it was videographer Naeem Munaf who owned the copyright (which he transferred to TMZ), even though Munaf had been hired by Leto to film the video.
In his summary judgement opinion, released Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew writes that because there was no written agreement that Leto’s company owned the video, the judge rejected Leto’s claim that he held the rights due to a written agreement signed after the fact, which Leto claimed simply solidified the oral agreement they already had.
“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,” writes the judge. “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.”
Following the ruling, Leto issued the following statement: “We decided to fight back because it was the right thing to do. We will continue to fight because it is the right thing to do. Using antiquated laws to find loopholes that hurt, shame and slander people in the name of ‘news’ isn’t just a legal issue, it is a moral one,” he says.
“It was wrong of TMZ to purchase stolen goods,” adds Leto. “It was wrong of TMZ to exploit material that did not belong to them. Neither myself, nor the employee in question, have any confusion around the issue at hand — he was an employee who was hired to work for us and the footage he shot in the privacy of my home studio was owned by me. Ignoring the sworn testimony that both the videographer and I understood and agreed that I owned the footage, the decision rewards TMZ for their duplicity and further encourages them to publish materials they know to be stolen.”
Leto concludes by announcing that he and his legal team “are launching an appeal immediately and are confident the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will reverse this decision. I hope that we will one day move toward a place where we ask how well we can treat one another rather than how badly.”