Who Owns 'Adjustment Bureau' Rights?

adjustment_bureau_1Variety reports that the estate of Philip K. Dick filed suit against Media Rights Captial, director George Nolfi and producer Michael Hackett on Thursday October 28th, charging  that the company and individuals named  did not honor  their agreement to pay a share of the returns from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.
The lawsuit contends that the production made the claim that Dick’s short story The Adjustment Team, the basis for the motion picture, had actually entered the public domain, and thus was not due any share of the profits. Furthermore, the filmmakers then called for a return of previous payments for the film rights to the story.
The filmmakers (who have not offically commented) allegedly made the claim that the initial publication of The Adjustment Team in the short-lived (and long defunct)  Pulp Magazine  ORBIT Science Fiction  in 1954 was never renewed, and so lapsed into the public domain.

ORBIT #4, 1954
ORBIT #4, 1954

However, the Philip K. Dick Trust argues that Dick’s literary agent, the controversial Scott Meredith, did not inform the author or pass on the payment from the publication to the writer, and that the actual copyright to the story dates to its publication in 1973’s The Book of Philip K. Dick, a collection of his short stories.
Not being a lawyer, I can’t comment on the merits of the suit. However, to my understanding,  this subsequent publication would have been well with the then current 28-year copyright protection status of the story.
I would also tend to believe that the only rights granted to a magazine in that era would normally be for “First North American Serial Rights’ of a story, and not film or other ancillary rights.  However, some  publishers did at times make demands for additional or even all rights to the fiction they purchased.
Interestingly, the suit also contends that an anonymous user changed the Wikipedia page on the short story to indicate that The Adjustment Team was in the public domain, just days after MRC made its claims.

Adjustment Bureau, Kiss Me Deadly, Ghost in the Shell: Laserblast Podcast 2:23.2

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) ad art

Tuesday, June 21 brings us another wonderful week’s worth of horror, fantasy, and science fiction films on home video, and the Cinefantastique Laserblast crew – Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski – focus with laser-like attention on the details of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, the romantic science-fiction-fantasy starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, arriving on DVD and Blu-ray; the new Criterion Collection release of KISS ME, DEADLY, producer-director Robert Aldrich’s brilliant film noir deconstruction of private eye Mike Hammer, which adds a sci-fi macguffin not present in the Mikey Spillaine source novel; and the GHOST IN THE SHELL Blu-ray  trilogy – feature-length condensations of the TV series inspired by Mamoru Oshii’s brilliant theatrical films. And if that’s not enough for you, how about some exploitation camp, in the form of MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID on Blu-ray and FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF on DVD?


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The Adjustment Bureau: CFQ Spotlight Podcast #7

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Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski don their Fedoras and go door to door, exploring the ins and outs of fate and free-will in their free-wheeling examination of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, writer-director George Nolfi’s combo of paranoid science fiction and romantic fantasy, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star as star-crossed lovers, whose blooming romance is threatened by a mysterious group calling themselves “The Adjustment Bureau.” Their task: to keep peoples’ lives on the path laid out for them in the grand design, pushing them back on track whenever chance or free will leads them astray. Is this a brilliant conflation of speculative fiction and popular film-making, or is THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU a great idea ruined by focus group alterations? Listen in for the grand debate – and hold on to your hats.

The Adjustment Bureau: March 4

Universal Pictures distributes this paranoid science-fiction thriller, in which a secret organization “adjusts” your life to make sure everything goes according to plan – whether or not you approve of the plan. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star as the couple who meet accidentally – a meeting that was not intended to take place – and finds themselves at the mercy of the Adjustment Bureau, in the person of Terence Stamp, who wants to nip their unplanned romance in the bud. George Nolfi wrote and directed, based on Phillip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.”
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