“Ace Ventura” clips in “Tiger King” trigger copyright lawsuit

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The producers of “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Netflix on Monday, December 27, 2021 in the Central District of California, alleging that the streaming giant used two scenes from the 1995 film. in “Tiger King” without permission.

Screenshot of the federal complaint

About three-quarters of the way through the first episode of “Tiger King” on Netflix, private zoo operator Bhagavan “Doc” Antle talks about some of the “500 gigantic international films” he says he has made with wild animals.

“Ace Ventura” is first on the list.

Two clips from “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” flashed on the screen as Antle spoke. Now, more than a year after the successful docuseries were released, that five seconds of screen time is at the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by the producers of “Ace Ventura”.

California-based Morgan Creek Productions Inc., which released the second film “Ace Ventura” in 1995, sued Netflix Inc. and Goode Films LLC – the documentary film production company behind “Tiger King” – in federal court on Monday, December 27. .

The lawsuit, filed in the Central District of California, accuses the two accused of using clips of Ace Ventura without permission in violation of federal copyright laws.

Netflix and Goode Films did not respond to the complaint, according to court documents, and a Netflix representative did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Tuesday, December 28. Representatives for Goode Films could not be reached for comment.

A lawyer representing Morgan Creek Productions also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, the second film “Ace Ventura” grossed $ 108 million with actor Jim Carrey at the helm. The film follows fictional pet sleuth Ace Ventura, who specializes “in the recovery of stolen wild and exotic animals.”

The lawyer for Morgan Creek Productions said the two “Ace Ventura” films had “a large and loyal following, especially among teenage males.”

The second film was released around the same time as several others that required the use of wildlife on set, including “The Jungle Book” (1994), “Dr. Dolittle” (1998), and “Mighty Joe Young. “(1998) – all of which Antle says she worked on in the first episode of” Tiger King “.

“Tiger King” follows the bizarre fall of Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic – a big cat enthusiast who owned the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Wildlife Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, for two decades before being convicted of orchestrating an elaborate murder-for-pay plot involving his self-proclaimed nemesis Carole baskin.

Maldonado-Passage, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison shortly before the docuseries aired in March 2020, has proclaimed his innocence.

The audience was Presentation of the “Doc” Antle about 30 minutes after the start of the first episode of “Tiger King,” where Antle discusses his appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” alongside his Tigers as well as his other Hollywood projects.

Antle’s interview was accompanied by short clips from the films he was said to have worked on.

Two of these scenes are from “Ace Ventura 2” – one in which Carrey’s character poses with a monkey on his shoulder and a second in which he is seen riding an elephant.

Neither was used with “permission or license,” lawyers for Morgan Creek Productions said in the lawsuit.

The production company’s copyright license for the film came into effect on Jan. 29, 1996, according to attachments to the complaint.

Netflix and Goode Films are accused of taking clips of the film in violation of this copyright, showing them to an “audience of literally millions of viewers” for their own financial benefit, the complaint says. Lawyers for Morgan Creek Productions said the clips “served to enhance the commercial value of” Tiger King “” in that they showed how often wild animals have been used in Hollywood and added “lightness” to the movie. the episode.

They also said the music videos seemed to imply that the creators of “Ace Ventura” “were promoting” Tiger King “favorably. “

Morgan Creek Productions sent a letter to Netflix and Goode Films in June 2020 seeking to negotiate a copyright license for the use of the “Ace Ventura” clips in “Tiger King,” according to the complaint. But talks failed, prompting the production company to continue.

The production company is claiming over $ 300,000 in damages plus legal fees.

Hayley Fowler is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and covers the latest real-time news in North and South Carolina. She holds a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining The Observer in 2019.


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