Just under a year ago, screenwriter P.J. McIlvaine felt the wrath of one of the world’s most powerful movie studios. After allegedly making available dozens of movie scripts online, 20th Century Fox sued the part-time flower seller for a staggering $12 million. But now after months of hardship. P.J. expresses relief as her ordeal is finally confirmed over.
In their lawsuit against Patricia McIlvaine (also known as P.J. McIlvaine) and Does 1-10, Hollywood giant Fox said it would be seeking damages and injunctive relief for copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.
The studio claimed that P.J not only “uploaded and made available to others via the Internet a script of Deadpool, the copyright to which is owned by Fox, and which is a script for a project still in development,” but also the scripts of 79 more movies and TV shows.
The infringements allegedly took place during 2009 and 2010, and Fox demanded statutory damages for each and every one. That all mounted up to a cool $12 million, a considerable sum for someone described as “a struggling screenwriter” who makes ends meet selling flowers.
When the news broke there was sympathy for P.J., not least because she was not the originator of the leaked scripts and allegedly only reposted material already available online. But now, just short of 12 months later, the whole $12 million drama is over.
“Well, it took almost a year to resolve–as the Fox investigators showed up on my doorstep the Friday before Thanksgiving last year,” P.J. told TorrentFreak, clearly relieved at the news.
“To say this turned my life upside down would be putting it mildly. It affected me on every level and some days it was hard to keep going. But I always tried to keep an upbeat, positive attitude. My family and friends supported me every step of the way, and my lawyers were beyond fantastic. To have this dismissed is a huge weight off my shoulders.”
And when P.J. describes the ordeal as “a rough time” one can’t help but agree – a look at the 27 documents filed in the case shows how seriously Fox were taking the issue. But thankfully the final document in that long list shows that the case is now dismissed without prejudice.
“Honestly, as to why Fox decided to dismiss the lawsuit now and why—that would be pure speculation and conjecture on my part, and I really don’t want to get into that,” P.J. told us.
While the decision is great news for P.J., it will also presumably spell good news for the mysterious John Does 1-10, who were allegedly responsible for supplying P.J. with the scripts. They have never been identified which leads one to question who they were, or indeed whether they ever existed.
The lawsuit itself, however, was very real indeed and clearly had a significant affect on P.J’s life. Will others take the risk of posting scripts in future when they see how far the studios are prepared to go in defending them? It seems less likely now than it did 12 months ago.
For Fox then, despite this dismissal, maybe it’s mission accomplished.