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Sony, Dreamworks and Disney: “Lawsuits are Not Going to Work”

Note: There will be two articles coming that will showcase a bit more about what is going on in the VFX world – and give you the whole view on why their are so many problems ahead for VFX and Motion Capture as a whole.

The recent expose concerning the techopolis scandal in animation has built up a firestorm in the VFX and animation world. That being said, the lawsuit that is in play in the courts could change the way Movies and TV are done for the foreseeable future.

Which makes this news item curious:

On Friday, The Walt Disney Company, DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures and Blue Sky Studios fired heavy legal artillery at a proposed class action lawsuit that aims to punish the studios for allegedly conspiring to deny workers in the visual effects community better work opportunities. The defendants are demanding a dismissal on new antitrust claims as coming too late and being bereft of necessary factual support.

The motion to dismiss continues by pointing out that much of what was uncovered by the DOJ relates to communications prior to 2009 — which the defendants argue is out-of-bounds for review as well as activity that the DOJ itself declined to prosecute. If the anti-poaching pacts continued after 2010, within the statute-of-limitations, they say “it is plaintiffs’ burden to allege specific anticompetitive conduct,” and not only haven’t they done so, continues the motion, the studios say it’s also implausible.

“It is highly improbable, to say the least, that parties under a DOJ investigation of their allegedly unlawful conduct would continue to engage in any such conduct while under that scrutiny,” states the motion.

The visual effects workers who are suing can perhaps beat the clock if they can show fraudulent concealment, or that the studio purposely hid their anticompetitive conduct. The studios say that nothing like this is alleged in the complaint.

But the motion to dismiss isn’t merely an attempt to have a judge reject the lawsuit on procedural grounds. The studios go above and beyond the typical route towards defeating a lawsuit by attacking class action attorneys at the firm of Cohen Milstein as springing into action upon word that a judge rejected Apple’s $325 million settlement as too low. “As for the named plaintiffs, there is no allegation that any of them ever did anything to investigate his or her claim,” they say.

The studios attempt to pick apart the smoking gun evidence of an antitrust conspiracy offered up by the plaintiffs.

There was a response from twitter from VFX Soldier to Mark Ames:

. Studios claim workers waited to long to file. Most of us didn’t know who was involved until sealed court docs were released…

Response from the TAG Union:

It’s not surprising that Our Fine Entertainment Conglomerates are responding to the lawsuits alleging wage suppression with Uzis blazing. Freezing forward movement on the case or … better yet … shutting the suits down would be a good thing.

So they’re taking a multi-pronged approach: 1) The suits are untimely (“Hey, good try, but the statutes of limitations has kicked in!”). And 2) The wage disputes should have been arbitrated, per the plaintiffs Personal Service Contracts.

Then another answer from Scott Squires:

They’re saying it didn’t happen despite evidence. And secret long enough that it no longer qualifies

This isnt a major surprise. The studios would have no choice but to fight back. This is their money maker – or at least – its engine. Its going to get really interesting in the next few weeks.

More at the Hollywood Reporter

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