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Heriot and Drew Pictures v. Byrne

2008 WL 4874297 (2008)

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Heriot and Drew Pictures v. Byrne

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

2008 WL 4874297 (2008)

Facts

California-based Australian film director and producer Drew Heriot (plaintiff) and Australian television producer Rhonda Byrne (defendant) were both involved in the production of the self-help documentary The Secret, which was produced in Australia. Byrne then met with a Chicago-based businessman, Robert Rainone (defendant), to arrange American distribution. Rainone formed The Secret LLC (defendant) and TS Merchandising Ltd. (defendant) (the companies) to handle sales, business development, merchandising, and contracts. The companies were based in Chicago. Internet sales and DVD manufacturing of The Secret were also based in the United States. A dispute over copyright ownership of the film arose between Heriot and Byrne. Heriot and his company, Drew Pictures Pty Ltd. (plaintiff), brought suit in federal district court for copyright infringement and unjust enrichment. The defendants moved for dismissal, challenging the suit on the grounds of forum non conveniens. Although not all the defendants were Australian, all were willing to submit to jurisdiction in Australia. Heriot and Drew Pictures countered that the Australian court’s jurisdiction over copyright-infringement claims was limited to Australia alone.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Conlon, J.)

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