Director/producer/writer Joss Whedon and the production company Lionsgate have been sued by a man claiming that they stole the idea for the film, “Cabin in the Woods,” from a novel that he wrote in 2006. Mr. Whedon is known for directing the hugely popular “Avenger’s” movies in addition to creating television products like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Netflix’s Daredevil. The lawsuit was filed forcopyright infringement regarding the idea behind the movie, claiming that it was stolen from the plaintiff’s novel.

Facts of the Complaint

The complaint was filed in California federal court last week by Peter Gallagher, but not the Mr. Gallagher of acting acclaim. Mr. Gallagher claims that Mr. Whedon and Lionsgate took their idea for the film “Cabin in the Woods” from his 2006 novel entitled, “The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines.” He is suing for copyright infringement and is seeking $10 million in damages.

Mr. Gallagher claims that both his book and the movie are based on the same premise. Both works feature a group of young people that are terrorized by monsters while staying in a cabin in the woods. The similarities between the characters’ names and personalities and certain scenes involving finding strange items in the home are also mentioned in the complaint. Finally, Mr. Gallagher claims that the ending to his book and the movie are nearly identical.

He claims that he self-published his novel in 2006 and began a grassroots campaign to sell it on the Venice boardwalk. Healleges in the complaint that he resides near where Mr. Whedon and Lionsgate operate and that he was contacted by multiple credible entertainment industry producers about the story. However, he did not specifically mention whether Mr. Whedon or Lionsgate were among those interested.

Mr. Whedon is credited with co-writing “Cabin in the Woods” with the film’s director, Drew Goddard. A spokesperson from Lionsgate has refused to comment on the matter while a response is being drafted by the company, and no one from Mr. Whedon’s camp has elected to make a statement regarding the lawsuit to the press, either.

California Copyright Law

Copyright law in California is dictated bySections 980-989 of the state’s civil code in addition to relevant federal law. The California code states that “the author of any original work of authorship that is not fixed in any tangible medium of expression has an exclusive ownership in the representation or expression thereof as against all persons except one who originally and independently creates the same or similar work.” Penalties for copyright infringement include paying damages, releasing profits, punitive penalties for each work infringed upon, and injunctions to stop further infringement of copyrighted works.

Contact a California Copyright Attorney Today

If you or someone that you know has questions regarding copyright law or other issues of intellectual property law in Pleasanton, Alameda County, or the Tri-Valley area let the experienced copyright law attorneys atGarcia & Gurney help. Call the office orcontact us today for a private review of your claims.


Joss Whedon 06May15