Protection of Script Summaries
On March 15, 2013, Breakdown Services Ltd. filed suit against a man they allege breached a duty of confidentiality as well as several other offenses. Breakdown Services is a company that works with various talent agencies and management companies in dealings that are highly confidential. Clients who subscribe to Breakdown Services get daily script “breakdowns,” and the product is described as containing “proprietary information of value.” It is self-categorized as the “communications network and casting system that provides the most professional means to reach talent agents…” Hollywood Reporter states that the defendant, Adam Seid, gave others access to the plaintiff’s website. Aside from the issue of confidentiality, Breakdown Services alleges an attempt to set up a competing business. The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Seid has been giving his login information to the website to several actors and actresses in L.A., essentially providing them with unauthorized access to classified information.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Seid entered into a contract with Breakdown Services in October of 2009. For monthly payments, Seid could access script summaries, helping him to understand the script, but Seid took it a step further and tried to gain an edge. He allegedly agreed to not copy what he saw or use it to compete against the company.
While suing over the protection of scripts is nothing new in L.A. courts, it is unusual to sue over the protection of only a synopsis of a script. The key issue here is timing. Unlike Sparknotes, a company that provides plot summaries and character analyses of written works, the works covered by Sparknotes are already published, and those summarized by Breakdown Services are not. Had Seid waited until the works were published, he might have avoided this hot-button issue. Breakdown Services proposes many policy arguments in favor of upholding protection, including the irreparable damage and injury of Plaintiff’s business and goodwill if they do not prevail.
Breakdown Services is represented by one-man-band Steven Krakowsky, a L.A. based litigator with experience in complex federal litigation. He asserting unfair business practices, tortious interference, breach of written contract and damages. The plaintiff wants a minimum of $1 million for each cause of action. If the plaintiff prevails, the decision will pave the way for new protection of limited use of password and login information, as well as copyright protection of summaries of scripts, in addition to the already protected script itself.