The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Jim Dedman (the Abnormal Use tort law blog) has the details; click on the link for more:
We here at Abnormal Use remain fans of HBO's "Game of Thrones," so it was with great interest that we read this morning's opinion in McCammon v. Home Box Office, Inc. and George R.R. Martin, No. 15-28712 (U.S. District Court for the Western District of South Carolina, April 1, 2016). Martin, as we all know, is the author of the "Song of Fire And Ice" fantasy novels, upon which HBO's successful television series, "Game of Thrones," is based. Over the past twenty years, Martin has released five novels in the series, the first in 1996, and the most recent in 2011. At least two more novels in the series are planned. "Game of Thrones," the television series, debuted on HBO in 2011. Its sixth season is scheduled to premiere later this month, and the television writers have nearly exhausted all of Martin's published source material. This, of course, means that the television show is now actually ahead of the narrative in the books (which is a curious thing indeed). We here at the blog have a number of opinions on that development, but today, we write about the federal litigation arising from it.
The factual background: Bill McCammon, a librarian and blogger from Greer, South Carolina, sued HBO and Martin in federal court following the finale of the most recent season of "Game of Thrones" in June of 2015. In so doing, he asserted various causes of action against Martin, including a claim for "negligent artistry," alienation of affection, and a novel use of laches, which is traditionally an affirmative defense asserted by defendants against plaintiffs accused of unreasonable delay. In the complaint, McCammon further complained that he had "suffered a loss of moral superiority, as his status as a reader of the novels provided him with foreknowledge of the events of the HBO series, thereby distinguishing him from mere watchers of popular television." Martin's delay, McCammon contended, cost him that "precious" status. McCammon further contended that HBO was vicariously liable for Martin's torts in light of their artistic relationship. (Before the court's order, McCammon abandoned an unrelated claim seeking restitution from HBO for both the cancellation of "Deadwood" and the perpetration of "True Blood.") …