Pennsylvania residents who follow developments in the entertainment business likely know that disputes over intellectual property rights often become litigious when major studios or networks are involved. One such dispute made its way to the courts recently when the premium cable network Starz filed a lawsuit in California that accused MGM of breach of contract. The case is connected to licenses that Starz says it purchased from MGM that gave it exclusive rights to stream and air classic films including the “The Terminator,” Rain Man” and “Thelma and Louise.”
Attorneys representing Starz say the network took action when its efforts to resolve the licensing issue amicably were rebuffed. Talks between the two companies began in August 2019 after Starz discovered that films covered by the agreement were available on Amazon’s streaming service. MGM is said to have admitted that it is aware of more than 200 films and television shows that violate the terms of the agreement. Starz claims that the true number is 300 or more.
Streaming rights have become more important in recent years as the popularity of services like Netflix and Amazon have soared while the number of cable subscribers has plummeted. Starz claims that some of the films involved were offered on MGM’s own streaming service Epix. An MGM representative responded to the lawsuit by accusing Starz of using the courts to cover its business missteps. According to MGM, the licensing agreement had little or no financial impact on Starz.
Lawsuits like this one can be very expensive to litigate and drag on for years. This is why attorneys with experience in business litigation and disputes may advise seeking a settlement at the negotiating table. When conventional discussions fail to produce the desired result, attorneys could suggest an alternative and less adversarial venue like mediation or arbitration.