Copyright’s Trial of the Century

The New York Times has coverage of the opening of the copyright infringement trial against the British publisher of The DaVinci Code, the best-selling novel by Dan Brown. (It may be the trial of the century, but it’s a young century.) At Prawfsblawg, Ed Lee has a good writeup of the legal issues involved, but he doesn’t answer the one question that’s running through my head:

The Da Vinci Code, a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard, is set to open later this Spring. The Times points out that the release might be put in jeopardy by a ruling for the plaintiffs in the infringement case.

Here’s the question, and I ask because I’m interested in the answer; this is a part of copyright and entertainment law where my well of knowledge runs dry. If the plaintiffs win the case, and if they seek and obtain a remedy against the producers of the derivative work — the major motion picture — then the producers are going to be out a huge chunk of money. What’s the likelihood that they have insurance coverage that will pay off that claim? What’s the likelihood that they have an indemnity in place with the publisher?

UPDATE: I am informed, in a private conversation, that the answers to both questions are “100%,” though to be clear, the “100%” applies to the existence of coverage and/or indemnity provisions, and not necessarily to the likelihood that the coverage will in fact pay off, or that it will pay off quickly.

4 thoughts on “Copyright’s Trial of the Century

  1. Honestly dunno either — not to lose that question, but I’m trying to grok the “Trial of the Century” label. You mean because of the amount of money and the defendant? It’s late here, perhaps I’m missing something.

  2. It’s 2006. “Trial of the century” applied today to any legal field is Parodic Rhetorical Overkill, or PRO.

  3. Surely the plaintiffs should be asking not that release of the movie be prevented but that they be given a slice of the profits; they’d get a lot more that way.

  4. What they might ask for, and what they might settle for, are very probably two different things.

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