Amazon, MGM Accuse Original ‘Road House’ Screenwriter of Fraud in Countersuit

R. Lance Hill sued Amazon Studios and MGM for copyright infringement in February

Road House 2024
Prime Video

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Amazon Studios and subsidiaries MGM and United Artists sought to invalidate the lawsuit by R. Lance Hill, the writer of the original “Road House,” accusing Hill of lying to the U.S. Copyright Office when he first registered the script in 1986.

Hill wrote the script under his pen name David Lee Henry and sold it to United Artists through his production banner Lady Amos. His lawsuit, filed in February, accuses Amazon of violating copyright law by disregarding his right to reclaim ownership of the original “Road House.”

Hill filed the screenplay with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1986, and applied to have the script rights returned to him in 2021, his suit says, but Amazon ignored this and proceeded with the remake. The streamer acquired that script when it bought MGM in 2021 for $8.45 billion.

The 31-page Amazon/MGM/UA lawsuit argues that Hill’s lawsuit is invalid in relatively simple terms based on the fact the original deal in which Hill sold the script to United Artists listed “Road House” as a work-for-hire product.

“Plaintiff’s Complaint ignores the well-established rule of copyright law that the author of a work made for hire is not the individual who created the work. In 1986, Hill personally acknowledged, represented, warranted—and indeed, contractually guaranteed—that the 1986 screenplay entitled ‘Roadhouse’ was created as a work made for hire for his own company, Lady Amos Literary Works, Ltd. (“Lady Amos”), and that Lady Amos—not Hill—was therefore its author within the meaning of the U.S. Copyright Act,” Amazon’s filing says.

“For that same reason, Lady Amos, not Hill, was the grantor of the rights that UA purchased in 1986. Hill cannot rewrite this history now, nearly four decades after the fact. His attempt to terminate that grant is invalid and his copyright infringement claim is doomed to fail,” it continues. The filing goes on to a point-by-point rebuttal of Hill’s lawsuit, as well as a detailed history of Lady Amos.

It also calls Hill’s 2021 Copyright Office application “fraudulent” as well as “inaccurate, and knowingly false.” In addition, the suit accuses Hill of breach of contract. It seeks the dismissal of his lawsuit, the repayment of all legal fees, asks the U.S. Copyright Office to cancel Hill’s original 1986 copyright application, and compensatory damages “subject to proof, and for prejudgment interest according to law.”

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