9.1 Agreement The movie Flashdance tells a story of a female construction worker who performs at night as an exotic dancer. She performs an innovative form of dancing that includes a chair dance. Her goal is to obtain formal dance training at a university. The movie is based on the life of Maureen Marder, a nightclub dancer. Paramount Pictures Corporation used information from Marder to create the screenplay for the movie. Paramount paid Marder $2,300, and Marder signed a general release contract, which provided that Marder “releases and discharges Paramount Picture Corporation of and from each and every claim, demand, debt, liability, cost and expense of any kind or character which have risen or are based in whole or in part on any matters occurring at any time prior to the date of this Release.” Marder also released Paramount from claims “arising out of or in any way connected with either directly or indirectly, any and all arrangements in connection with the preparation of screenplay material and the production, filming and exploitation of Flashdance.”
Paramount released the movie Flashdance, which grossed more than $150 million in domestic box office receipts and is still shown on television and distributed through DVD rentals. Subsequently, Sony Music Entertainment paid Paramount for release of copyright and produced a music video for the Jennifer Lopez song “I’m Glad.” The video featured Lopez’s performance as a dancer and singer. Marder believes that the video contains re-creations of many well-known scenes from Flashdance. Marder brought a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Paramount, Sony, and Lopez. Marder sought a declaration that she had rights as a coauthor of Flashdance and a co-owner with Paramount of the copyright to Flashdance. She sued Sony and Lopez for allegedly violating her copyright in Flashdance.
Is the general release Marder signed an enforceable contract? Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 14330 (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2006)