I’m proud to have been quoted in the International Business Times regarding Academy Award winning film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” which used a telephone message from a victim of 9/11, seemingly without the consent of the victim’s grieving family.
And here’s my contribution to:
Whether or not Mary Fetchet [the victim’s grieving Mother] could bring a successful legal case against the filmmakers is hard to say, but legal options in situations such as this are tricky.
â€œGenerally, U.S. copyright law protects â€˜original works of authorshipâ€™ that are fixed in a tangible form of expression,â€ said Gano Lemoine, a -based entertainment attorney. â€œCopyright law typically does not protect â€˜improvisational speechesâ€™ that have not been written or recorded. It is possible that the recording of Bradley Fetchetâ€™s phone call from the World Trade Center was a copyright-protectable work, which would allow the copyright holder to prohibit its use without permission.â€
But that right to prohibit use can be waived, Lemoine said, if the owner fails to take appropriate actions to preserve the copyright. In Fetchetâ€™s case, the Daily News article noted that she â€œshared the
message in past scenarios, including with the 9/11 Commission.â€
â€œIt may be that by providing her recording of her sonâ€™s message to government investigators and others, she may have unwittingly put the recording of her son into the public domain,â€ Lemoine added, â€œthereby losing any legal right to enjoin the filmmakers from using the audio, or otherwise seek damages.â€
Lemoine added that he sympathizes with Fetchet, and acknowledged that a legal analysis of her rights seems cold in light of her obvious — and understandable — emotional distress.