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4/10/2013
Source: Law360
 

‘Spider-Man’ Producers End Copyright Battle With Taymor

Julie Taymor, the fired director of the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," has reached a settlement with the Broadway show's producers, concluding her copyright infringement and breach of contract suit against the company, according to a joint statement released Wednesday.

The agreement, the details of which were not disclosed, resolves Taymor's claims that she is entitled to outstanding royalties from the New York production of the musical and settles any future claims she could make based on subsequent productions of the show, according to the statement.

"We're happy to put all this behind us," said Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris of 8 Legged Productions LLC. "We are now looking forward to spreading [the show] in new and exciting ways around the world."

Taymor, who was hired as the director of "Turn Off the Dark" in 2004, devised the plot for the production and registered her version of the musical's songbook with the U.S. Copyright Office in March 2005, according to her November 2011 suit.

She signed an agreement with the producers later that year stipulating that she would be paid 1.9 percent of the show's weekly profits as royalties for the use of that songbook, Taymor said.

But she was removed as the director of the $60 million production in March 2011 following delays, accidents on set and blistering reviews from critics, the complaint said.

Taymor said her copyrighted ideas — including hundreds of lines of dialogue, stage directions and set designs — continued being used in the show after her removal, yet she still was not paid royalties on the profits from the show, which in January 2012 broke records by making $2.9 million in a week.

When the parties reached a settlement in principle in late August 2012, the case was discontinued and they were given two months to finalize the deal.

Taymor and the production company repeatedly asked for extensions of that deadline as they continued to hash out the terms of the final agreement.

The judge hearing the case in the Southern District of New York, Katherine B. Forrest, allowed the deadline to be pushed back multiple times, but in December 2012 she told the litigants that no extensions would be granted beyond Jan. 9.

Both sides failed to come to terms by that date and the lawsuit was restored, with the trial scheduled for late May.

In the meantime, both sides continued their talks, which were to be overseen by a magistrate judge if they continued going nowhere. But on Wednesday it seemed that would not be necessary.

Dale Cendali, the attorney for 8 Legged Productions, told Law360 on Wednesday that the latest settlement agreement is final and ends the suit.

Cendali said she could not comment on the terms of the deal.

In the statement, Taymor said she was glad the dispute was over and she hopes "for the continued success of Spider-Man, both on Broadway and beyond."

Counsel for Taymor could not be immediately reached for comment.

The production company is represented by Dale Margaret Cendali, Courtney Lee Farkas, Claudia Elizabeth Ray, and Joshua Levicoff Simmons of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Taymor is represented by Matthew Gage Coogan, Lauren Candace Freundlich, Andrew Shiu Lee, Charles T. Spada, and Patrick Christopher Toomey of Lankler Siffert & Wohl LLP.

The case is Taymor et al v. 8 Legged Productions LLC et al, case number 1:11-cv-08002, before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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