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Special Effects Firm Sues to Destroy Your DVDs

By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 21, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Fortunately, some things are legally impossible to enforce.

That's why we have legal principles such as "acts of God," or "impossibility of performance." And then there are those "rights" that cannot be enforced because, well, they are "ridiculous."

It's a good thing, too, especially if you want to keep your copies of "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Avengers: Age of UItron" and "Beauty and the Beast." A visual effects firm has sued to destroy them all.

Not in This Universe

Reardon, which created software that captures facial motion for special effects, claims to own copyrights for the computer-generated images created in those movies. The firm already won a lawsuit against another company that stole its software, and now alleges the movie studios used the stolen technology.

The Walt Disney Company, Marvel Studios, and other movie makers named in the new complaint deny any wrongdoing. They denied it the first time the judge threw out the case.

The first amended complaint reshapes the copyright argument, and includes an impossible request for relief. The plaintiff wants "the impoundment and destruciton of all copies of "Guardians of the Galaxy," "Avengers: Age of Ultron," and "Beauty and the Beast" motion pictures in any medium."

Perhaps the plaintiff wants to destroy only the movies in the producers' possession. Otherwise, the special effects firm is going to need other-worldly power to wrest those DVDs from millions of Walmart shoppers.

A "Ridiculous' Idea

Undaunted by the first dismissal, Reardon seems to think that his copyrighted software gives him ownership of the temporary files that run through a computer's memory. Krista Cox, an intellectual property attorney, said Reardon's copyright claim is a "ridiculous idea that would cripple the functioning of our digital world."

"Indeed, as the digital environment has evolved and become more prominent, courts over the last decade or so have clarified the law around temporary copies, finding that transitory copies are not subject to copyright, such as the temporary copies in a computer's RAM or buffering copies made in streaming video," she wrote for Above the Law.

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