Huge Extensive Update - Martha Hart Vs. WWE Lawsuit
Attorneys representing World Wrestling Entertainment (and Vince and Linda personally) have filed separate motions to dismiss the lawsuit brought against them by Martha Hart. The motions were accompanied by over 100 pages of documents. Here is the breakdown of the WWE's dismissal claims.
* Regarding Martha Hart's allegation that WWE doesn't own the right to use any of Owen Hart's matches or footage, WWE pointed out that Martha Hart agreed the company did have those copyrights when she attempted and failed to get an injunction against the release of the "Hart and Soul" DVD documentary in Canada.
WWE's attorneys also pointed out that Owen Hart, contractually, agreed to WWE retaining the rights to his footage in perpetuity, citing, "In clear and unambiguous language consistently ignored, the contract provides at least eight separate times that WWE is the exclusive and perpetual owner of the copyrighted works of WWE s programs on which Owen and other wrestlers performed (including, but not limited to, television footage and photographs), and that WWE s rights survived termination of the contract for any reason."
WWE then cited each and every point in Hart's last signed contract before noting, "This avalanche of contractual rights in favor of WWE, all of which survive termination of the contract, is fatal to all of the Estate s stale claims challenging WWE s rights to produce and sell DVDs which include the name, likeness, and performances of Owen at WWE events."
* In regard to Martha Hart's claim that she alone owns the copyright to tell the life story of Owen Hart, WWE attorneys noted that Hart's case failed to meet the standard under "heightened pleading" commenting that her complain features, "First Amendment problems driven by Mrs. Hart s erroneous view that she alone gets to tell the story of Owen s life and that neither WWE nor members of the Hart Family can speak about Owen without her consent. Insofar as the First Amendment is concerned, it is noteworthy that there is not a single allegation that WWE ever published a single falsity about Owen anywhere in its products or its packaging of products, and First Amendment protections are not lost unless speech involves falsity and reckless disregard for truth. WWE has the same First Amendment right to publish the story about the Hart Family as a program like 60 Minutes and, in telling that story, certainly can use its own copyrighted works to do so."
* Responding to Hart's claim that WWE used Owen's Intellectual Property without Authorization, the company noted again Owen's rights to his WWE material were contracted to the company and that in their 2000 Settlement with Martha Hart, Owen's parents and his children, featured a "broad general release" that "all claims, debts, losses, liabilities, costs, expenses (including attorney's fees), causes of action, lawsuits, and demands of every kind and nature whatsoever, whether known or unknown, from the beginning of time to the date of this Agreement, that the Releasing Parties had or may now have against any of them, as may have arisen or has arisen, in connection with any and all matters arising out of or relating to the death of Owen Hart."
So basically, WWE is claiming that Martha Hart doesn't have the rights to raise these issues in 2010 as she agreed to release them from any and all issues when they settled her original lawsuit in 2000. WWE also noted that if Hart had question over the rights, she could have raised them prior to the original settlement agreement. The motion noted, "Mrs. Hart did not claim then (or at anytime in the past decade), as she does now eleven years later, that Owen s death somehow eviscerated WWE s perpetual rights that expressly survived termination of the contract."