Loeb & Loeb is pleased to announce that the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted a summary judgement in its entirety in favor of its client, Miramax, a global film and television studio best known for its award-winning and original content, in a copyright suit over the iconic “Pulp Fiction” movie poster image.
In 1994, Firooz Zahedi, the plaintiff and an acclaimed photographer, took several photographs of Uma Thurman in character in her now-famous role as Mia Wallace in the Quentin Tarantino film, “Pulp Fiction.” Miramax, the studio that produced “Pulp Fiction,” pursuant to a work for hire agreement, used one of the photographs taken by Zahedi and owned by Miramax, with a few changes, on its poster for the film. As the sole owner of the image, Miramax exploited the photograph in posters and merchandise, including T-shirts, hats, toys, DVDs, video cassettes and music albums.
After decades of Miramax licensing the image, Zahedi filed a lawsuit in May 2020 claiming that: (i) he owned the photograph and all copyright rights of the image; and (ii) that Miramax and each of its licensees were liable for copyright infringement.
The Loeb team aggressively defended Miramax and each of its licensees against Zahedi’s claims of copyright infringement and willful copyright infringement. Initially, the Loeb team successfully secured an order from the district court stating that Zahedi was late in filing any copyright registration, which resulted in a limitation of any alleged damages. Next, the team obtained a bifurcation order that separated the case into two phases. In addition, Miramax filed a cross-complaint asserting Miramax’s copyright in the photograph and damage claims against Zahedi for his violation of Miramax’s copyright through his improper use of the photograph over the years.
In November 2021, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted Miramax’s motion for summary judgment in its entirety, finding that Miramax is the owner of the photograph and can continue to exploit the photograph without interference from Zahedi. In addition, the judge ruled in Miramax’s favor that all of Zahedi’s claims against Miramax and its licensees were barred by the statute of limitations. Lastly, Judge Gee denied Zahedi’s cross motion for summary judgement in its entirety based on granting Miramax’s motion.
Shortly thereafter, Zahedi filed a motion for reconsideration and clarification of the court’s order. On July 18, 2022, Judge Mark C. Scarsi, now assigned to the case, denied Zahedi’s motion for reconsideration in its entirety. The only remaining issue in the case is a trial on the amount of damages that Miramax is entitled to recover on its cross-complaint claims. Miramax is entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs and will submit an application for fees and costs to the district court.