Universal Studios has completed a settlement with the makers of Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation. According to a court filing, Smash Pictures will make a payment of a confidential sum to make the lawsuit go away and also will consent to a permanent injunction that will prohibit the distribution of the XXX Adaptation.
Universal and its Focus Features division spent $5 million in March 2012 to acquire rights to make Fifty Shades of Grey movies based upon E L James' series of novels about a literature student who meets a young billionaire entrepreneur and the erotic passions and bondage they have together.
Smash Pictures and James Lane (aka Jim Powers) thought the story was a natural adult movie, so they made one. Smash exec Stuart Wall told a newspaper, "Since they are going to make a mainstream [film] of the books too, dabbling in the adult world, we're choosing to go with a XXX adaption which will stay very true to the book and its S&M-themed romance."
Slapping a "parody" tag onto the title wasn't enough to keep Universal from protecting its rights. Along with Fifty Shades Ltd., the copyright owner of the original material, a lawsuit was filed in November that called the XXX Adaptation a"willful attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the book."
In January, the plaintiffs requested a permanent injunction and the case looked headed toward a determination of whether Universal could show there was no fair use to the material and that an adult film version of an adult book irreparably harmed its market.
Universal seemed to have a good edge in this case, but Smash Pictures presented an interesting defense.
The defendant offered that Fifty Shades of Grey was in the "public domain" because the author originally published it online on fan fiction websites.
Andrew Thomas at Jenner & Block, the attorney for the plaintiffs, responded quickly, saying that the claim was "misleading and legally flawed" and that it was really an early version on websites and no matter because there wasn't any basis to suggest that injected the work into the public domain.
The lawsuit will go no further. The parties provided notice of settlement on Friday and will be entering the terms of the injunction soon.