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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Trustee of Philip K. Dick estate files suit against film makers

Science-fiction fans in Minnesota are probably well-acquainted with the author Philip K. Dick. The author, who died in 1982, wrote many popular science-fiction novels in his lifetime, and many of those novels have since been made into movies. However, the trustee of his estate has now filed a lawsuit against the makers of the blockbuster movie "The Adjustment Bureau," which is based on Dick's short story "Adjustment Team."

Released this past year, "The Adjustment Bureau" starred Matt Damon and made some $128 million at the box office on top of another $10 million from DVD sales. As the film cost just $62 million to make, it was a box office success. However, the makers of the film are now claiming they owe no copyright royalties to the estate of Philip K. Dick, despite using the author's name in marketing materials.

Originally, the estate and the makers of the film had reached an agreement back in 2001. Since then, that agreement had been extended several times, which allowed the movie makers time to perfect the script and work on the movie. Yet when the movie came out, they began to assert that the copyright on "Adjustment Team" had lapsed. If true, that would mean they owe no royalties to the Philip K. Dick estate.

The trustee of the estate filed the suit in a federal court to collect the copyright royalties, and in doing so, she is ensuring that the beneficiaries of the estate are not getting a raw deal. Indeed, a properly laid out estate plan can make sure the estate is administered by a trustee for years to come after the testator dies. Those Minnesota residents considering probate and estate administration may well benefit from legal counsel on such matters. After all, it is important to make sure that the will laying out the estate does not have unintended consequences, and that heirs are provided for as intended.

Source: courthousenews.com, "Philip K. Dick's Estate Sues Moviemakers," Glynis Farrell, Oct. 31, 2011

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