‘Nightcrawler’ Lawsuit: Judge Says There’s Too Many Stringer Films For Copyright Claim

As spy films need gadgets and Swiss bank accounts, and Irish mob movies require bad Boston accents and crooked cops, the genre of films about freelance news videographers share a unifying concept: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

That was the finding of a federal judge Monday when he decided to throw out a four-year-old lawsuit brought against Universal, Bold Films, and Open Road Films, the producers and distributors of “Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It received an Oscar-nomination for its screenplay.

From the 1992’s “The Public Eye,” to 2014’s “Nightcrawler,” there’s a collection of movies focused on so-called stringers, the people paid to record late-night police chases, freeway wrecks, and fires for the gawking eyes of TV-news viewers the next morning — and the films, as a necessity, share certain un-copyrightable elements, a legal doctrine known as scènes à faire.

The suit was filed by Richard Dutcher, the director, writer, and
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