Jared Leto has lost the lawsuit he filed against TMZ.
A video of the Oscar winner was released by the gossip site back in December. The footage, featuring Leto and an engineer at the actor's Los Angeles home studio, shows him critiquing Taylor Swift's latest album 1989, and he can be seen and heard to say "I mean, fuck her ... I don't give a fuck about her."
When the video went public, Leto was quick to apologise to Swift and filed a lawsuit against TMZ in order to:
“...encourage more people to stop trafficking in stolen goods.”
In his lawsuit, Leto claimed that he had hired the videographer, Naeem Munaf, but the claim was disputed by TMZ's lawyers, and U.S. District Court judge Ronald Lew sided with them when he made his ruling yesterday.
He said that saying that the footage in question wasn’t created for Leto’s company because the videographer wasn’t an employee and also commented on the fact that there was no written agreement suggesting Leto owned the footage.
He dismissed Leto's claim that he had locked up rights to the clip by having Munaf sign a written agreement in December, confirming an oral deal in September, when the footage was filmed.
Munaf had transferred copyright ownership of the video to TMZ on December 4, via email dialogue with the site. He was to be paid $2000 for the clip, and, although he didn't specifically state in his communications that he was transferring ownership, Judge Lew ruled the intention was clear saying:
While Munaf did not click a 'yes' button, Munaf did have to click the 'send' button and the email had 'Jake Miller' written at the bottom, purporting to be Munaf’s signature.
Summing up, he added:
While other out-of-circuit courts have held that a written instrument for a work made for hire may be executed after the work is created, it is clear based on the statute, the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Schiller, and this district’s ruling in Andreas Acarlsson, the intention is to have the written instrument executed before the work is made to clearly identify copyright ownership. Allowing the written instrument to be executed after the work is created would defeat the purpose of the statute in requiring a written instrument altogether.
Both parties have yet to comment on the outcome of the case.