Summary Judgment for Defendant Screen Gems in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Re Motion Picture "Steppin'" (2010)

December 10, 2010

Clements v. Screen Gems, Inc.

Plaintiff, an owner of the motion picture STEPPIN', filed various claims against Defendant Screen Gems arising from its production and distribution of the motion picture STOMP THE YARD.  Both films focused on the type of dance known as "steppin'" that originated in historically black colleges in the South.  LP&S originally obtained from the Central District Court of California dismissal of plaintiff's state law claims on their failure to state viable claims on their face and of plaintiff's copyright infringement action for failure to meet jurisdictional requirements.  After the U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuits issued opinions that would have required reversal of the jurisdictional basis for the dismissal of plaintiff's copyright action, LP&S agreed voluntarily to reinstate plaintiff's copyright action before the District Court.  Thereafter, LP&S's Motion for Summary Judgment was granted on the ground that the two motion pictures were not substantially similar in their protectible expression.