“LOVING PABLO” AUTHOR’S CASE AGAINST NETFLIX SURVIVES A MOTION TO DISMISS
Steven T. Lowe
In a follow-up to our article about this case posted on September 14, 2018, the following is an update in the case: Netflix and producers of the Netflix original series “Narcos” (“Netflix”) cannot escape copyright infringement claims brought against them by Columbian journalist Virginia Vallejo (“Vallejo”).
Vallejo, a former lover of Pablo Escobar and author of her best-selling memoir- “Loving Pablo”- detailing the romantic relationship between her and drug lord, Escobar, filed a lawsuit in August 2018 alleging that Netflix stole multiple scenes from her book. However, on May 24, 2019, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida, K. Michael Moore, dismissed both of Vallejo’s copyright claims- finding one claim alleged the use of facts, which are generally not covered by copyright law (as to the facts themselves but necessarily as to the way the facts are expressed), and the other claim related to details that necessarily followed the sequence of events in the depicted scene, which is also not covered as “scenes a faire”- leaving her with one copyright claim. Judge Moore however did also leave the door open for Vallejo to refile her claims regarding the two dismissed scenes, giving her a June 6, 2019 deadline to file an amended complaint.
Additionally, Judge Moore also dismissed with prejudice Vallejo’s claims for unfair competition and trademark infringement under the federal Lanham Act and Florida common law, finding her pleadings insufficient. “Here, there are no allegations that defendants attributed or otherwise suggested that plaintiff was a producer of the show Narcos. Accordingly, plaintiff cannot state a claim for false designation…At most, plaintiff alleges that others were confused by plaintiff’s association with the show, but does not attribute this confusion to defendants’ conduct.”
Vallejo is represented by Robert Thornburg and Joshua B. Spector of Allen Dyer Doppelt & Gilchrist PA.
The defendants are represented by Scott D. Ponce and Rebecca J. Cañamero of Holland & Knight LLP and Louis P. Petrich of Leopold Petrich & Smith.
The case is Vallejo v. Narcos Productions LLC, case number 1:18-cv-23462, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
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