‘Spider-Man’ musical the subject of copyright infringement lawsuit

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Florida residents may have heard about the hit Broadway musical sensation “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” The show began performances in November 2010, and since then it has been grossing an average of $1.4 million.

However, the show’s former director was fired in March of 2011 during the show’s preview performances. She filed a lawsuit last November for intellectual property infringement. She claims that she had copyright protection to the “Spider-Man” script, along with rights to the staging of the performance. She says that because she was fired, the producers are benefitting from her intellectual property without paying her. She is seeking $1 million that she believes she is owed in back pay and royalties.

On the other hand, the producers contend that the former director was fired for breach of contract and that they do not owe her anything. According to their counter-lawsuit, they say that she did not cooperate with artistically overhauling the musical while in its preview stage.

In August of this year, the judge in the case ruled that the sides had to come to terms in the lawsuit or risk going to trial.

Based on sources close to both parties, it appears that the financial settlement, the acknowledgement of the director’s artistic contribution in future performances, and the future of a documentary about the show are still areas of contention between both parties.

If the parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, then this intellectual property dispute will head to trial before a jury in the coming year.

Source: New York Times, “ARTSBEAT; ‘Spider-Man’ Settlement Talks Miss Deadline,” Patrick Healy, Oct. 31, 2012