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Old 02-22-2012, 10:57 AM   #1
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Paramount sues to stop new book in ‘Godfather’ series

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Paramount Pictures is demanding that the estate of author Mario Puzo not license any more literary sequels to The Godfather. The studio has filed a lawsuit against Anthony Ruzzo, the son and executor of his late father's estate, and is seeking an injunction precluding any further alleged copyright and trademark infringement.

According to Paramount's complaint, the studio gained a copyright interest in Puzo's famed novel, The Godfather, in 1969, which granted it "the sole and exclusive right: to make and cause to be made literary and dramatic and other versions and adaptations of every kind and character."

The agreement paved the way for the legendary Francis Ford Coppola film in 1972, as well as two movie sequels.

Puzo died in 1999, and after his death, the estate run by his son expressed an interest in "sequel novels" written by other authors.
I think this is utter crap. Paramount doesn't care about the legacy of this book series...they're just scared that someone else might decide to read the books instead of paying Paramount to watch the movie....

...if they were really concerned, they wouldn't be getting ready to release Godfather: The Five Families as a Facebook game. Seriously? FB. Yeah, that's reputation concern there.
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #2
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It's entirely irrelevant what Paramount have or haven't done with the franchise. The validity of the claim rests solely on whether or not Paramount really do have the rights that they believe they do. That's for a court to decide.
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Old 02-22-2012, 01:33 PM   #3
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It's entirely irrelevant what Paramount have or haven't done with the franchise. The validity of the claim rests solely on whether or not Paramount really do have the rights that they believe they do. That's for a court to decide.

The article states that point that Paramount is making is that the reason they want to keep the family from having any additional books written is to protect the franchise's reputation.

If that is the argument they are going with...I think Paramount should prove that THEY [Paramount] are not tarnishing the reputation themselves. Cause that's the only reason for the lawsuit, right?

And I think that a "gotcha" game on facebook (a company known for privacy violations) by Zynga (a company known for creating items that require the players to spend large amounts of money) is a tarnish to the reputation of the original books AND movies.

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"Far from properly honoring the legacy of The Godfather," says Paramount in its latest complaint, a copy of which was obtained by THR. "The unauthorized The Godfather's Revenge tarnished it..."
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:12 PM   #4
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And I think that a "gotcha" game on facebook (a company known for privacy violations) by Zynga (a company known for creating items that require the players to spend large amounts of money) is a tarnish to the reputation of the original books AND movies.
The original books and movies had a reputation for depicting shadowy underworld crime.

Such an undertaking polishes a reputation like that, don't you think?

For the record, Paramount is full of hooey on this one.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:19 PM   #5
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The original books and movies had a reputation for depicting shadowy underworld crime.

Such an undertaking polishes a reputation like that, don't you think?

For the record, Paramount is full of hooey on this one.
Point!
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:37 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MrsJoseph View Post
...
If that is the argument they are going with...I think Paramount should prove that THEY [Paramount] are not tarnishing the reputation themselves. Cause that's the only reason for the lawsuit, right?

...
No, in court all that matters is what the contract says.

In the eyes of the law, it would be entirely valid to say contractually we have all rights to the franchise and we don;t want others to tarnish that reputation, we prefer to do that ourselves, as is our sole right by the contract.

What you prefer is entirely irrelevent.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:38 PM   #7
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The author should have had a MUCH better agent. Signing away that much of your creative rights is just foolish. For that book he should have insisted on limited rights for a strictly limited time period. I'd like to see publishers losing a lot of their power to insist on contracts like that.
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Old 02-22-2012, 02:39 PM   #8
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I think this is utter crap. Paramount doesn't care about the legacy of this book series...
They don't have to care. Statements like "zomg they're tarnishing the legacy" are PR, not legal arguments.

All that matters is the transfer of copyright as listed in the contracts between Mario Puzo and Paramount. If Puzo did in fact transfer control of the characters and the series to Paramount, and the estate is writing sequels without authorization, then they can block publication.

This seems to be the case, though we should keep in mind that THR couldn't reach the Puzo estate for comment.

The article also points out how there was one authorized sequel, one unauthorized sequel in 2006 (which apparently sucked and is already out of print) and now the estate is allegedly working on a third. Since Mario Puzo died in 1999, it seems clear the estate is basically looking for more income. That's fine -- as long as they do so within the confines of the agreement -- but let's not act like the estate has some nobler purpose either.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:01 PM   #9
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I think this is utter crap. Paramount doesn't care about the legacy of this book series...they're just scared that someone else might decide to read the books instead of paying Paramount to watch the movie....

...if they were really concerned, they wouldn't be getting ready to release Godfather: The Five Families as a Facebook game. Seriously? FB. Yeah, that's reputation concern there.
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
It's entirely irrelevant what Paramount have or haven't done with the franchise. The validity of the claim rests solely on whether or not Paramount really do have the rights that they believe they do. That's for a court to decide.
Hear, hear.

Mrs Joseph is right about Paramount's aims and character while HarryT is correct about their legal claims and rights.

Personally I think that later authors furthering previous authors books usually results in a letdown for the reader though of course not for people making money on the new editions.
There are near exceptions as with Robert Jordan laying out a theme for his final volume of his Wheel of Time Series as he lay dying and then his wife who had been his agent and critic for years choosing Brandon Sanderson to finish the final volume which became 3 volumes. (What did I say about "making money?")
Another of my favorite older authors Jack Vance actually authorized some of his work to be continued in one direction while he delved into another deeper direction. I wish he had not done either of those.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:45 PM   #10
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The author should have had a MUCH better agent. Signing away that much of your creative rights is just foolish. For that book he should have insisted on limited rights for a strictly limited time period. I'd like to see publishers losing a lot of their power to insist on contracts like that.
crossi,

(edited to remove appearance/evidence of carrying on)

My whole point comes to this.
If MGM came up and offered me a Million USD for all rights in perpetuity for my so called "Amazing Story" book, and they were going to make a movie about it, I would be sorely tempted. If they offered 2 Million, screen writing credits, and a contract to write further books (Amazing Story 2, Amazing Story 3, ..., ) with similar payoffs, I would become like warm butter on their lips. Like the fallen heroine in a trashy novel might say, "the company could have its way with me."

The publishers will not lose their power as long as they have money the authors wants. If you personally were able to get some kind of "big brother" overriding law passed limiting contracts, then the money offered would go down proportionally and the authors would "hates you forever."

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Old 02-22-2012, 04:04 PM   #11
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I recognize that money talks and it's hard to say no when someone is waving some big bucks at you, esp if you don't have much, but I still think his agent could have bargained better on his behalf. I don't want laws about this, I just want a lot more competion to the big six so an author can shop around more for better deals. I'd like to see a big 20 or 30 instead of 6.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:42 PM   #12
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I recognize that money talks and it's hard to say no when someone is waving some big bucks at you, esp if you don't have much, but I still think his agent could have bargained better on his behalf. I don't want laws about this, I just want a lot more competion to the big six so an author can shop around more for better deals. I'd like to see a big 20 or 30 instead of 6.
Agreed! I am with you there entirely. There can be and should be changes and hopefully eBooks will help bring that along in a manner helpful to authors, and to books in general. I don't pretend to see or understand how it will all come out in the end.

crossi, I didn't mean to come down so heavily on you earlier. In retrospect, I said too much, but I was already up in the air about something else and I only came to this site to take a break from that, but I think I was already carrying a hammer in my hand.

My apologies, if I seemed rude or overbearing.
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:07 PM   #13
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I recognize that money talks and it's hard to say no when someone is waving some big bucks at you, esp if you don't have much, but I still think his agent could have bargained better on his behalf. I don't want laws about this, I just want a lot more competion to the big six so an author can shop around more for better deals. I'd like to see a big 20 or 30 instead of 6.
I think that this would be a better point if the author in question weren't Mario Puzo. "The Godfather" was sold for the most money every paid for a paperback at that time ($400,000+ in 1968). The book was on the bestseller list for a year and a half. Puzo wasn't a starving artist when the movie was made, and the movies made him millions of dollars.

I don't know that much about movie studios, but I think that if they are investing $50-$100 million dollars in making a movie, they'll want to insist on pretty tight control over the rights unless the movie is guaranteed to make huge amounts of money.

Turning to the actual topic, while the legal answer is going to depend on the wording of the contract, morally I tend to favor Paramount. At least the first two "Godfather" movies are classic works of American cinema. And it's not like Puzo's son is writing new works in the "Godfather" universe using his father's notes (like Christopher Tolkien); the family has just hired some random author to write additional books in the Godfather universe to make some extra money. (I think there have been some other sequels since Puzo's death, but I don't know the details).
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Old 02-22-2012, 10:07 PM   #14
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It's entirely irrelevant what Paramount have or haven't done with the franchise. The validity of the claim rests solely on whether or not Paramount really do have the rights that they believe they do. That's for a court to decide.
Personal opinion? The world needs more authors, and less lawyers. (I won't even mention politicians )

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Old 02-22-2012, 10:44 PM   #15
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Probably just as well if the books were stopped. Most sequels written by a different author don't turn out nearly as good as the origionals. The "voice" just isn't the same. I only know of a couple exceptions.
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