Today the United States Supreme Court denied Olivia De Havilland’s request that it hear her appeal in the De Havilland v. FX Networks right of publicity and false light case involving the FX television series Feud: Betty and Joan. This development leaves in place the March 26, 2018 opinion from the California Court of Appeal, a decision that re-affirmed the First Amendment rights of storytellers and confirmed the importance of California’s strong anti-SLAPP statute – which allowed FX to obtain immediate appellate review, and a quick reversal, of the trial court’s initial decision.
In January 2018, the MPAA joined Netflix in an amicus brief in the California Court of Appeal in support of FX, warning that upholding the Superior Court’s decision denying FX’s anti-SLAPP motion would seriously chill artistic freedom and public discourse. The Court of Appeal’s opinion affirmed the First Amendment right of filmmakers to tell stories about and inspired by real people and events without having to seek permission or pay the subjects of their works.
The following is a statement from Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
“The MPAA is pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the De Havilland v. FX Networks case, putting an end to this litigation and leaving in place the excellent opinion by the California Court of Appeal. This is great news for filmmakers and other creators, whose First Amendment right to tell stories that depict real people and events was resoundingly reaffirmed by the Court of Appeal, and for audiences everywhere who enjoy a good biopic, documentary, docudrama, or work of historical fiction.”