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Judge allows big Conjuring lawsuit that partially involves whether ghosts are real

Annabelle: Creation (Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema)

In April, an author named Gerald Brittle filed a $900 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. over the Conjuring movies, with Brittle claiming that he owns the exclusive rights to the stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren—real-life paranormal investigators and the protagonists of the Conjuring series. The Hollywood Reporter says that a judge has now rejected the studio’s attempt to have the suit dismissed, which means that it will now go to trial at some point next spring. The judge’s ruling has more to do with how complicated it is to determine if something has infringed on the copyright of something else, but it turns out that this lawsuit might actually involve whether or not ghosts exist.

The whole thing started in 1980, when Brittle wrote a book called The Demonologist that involved some of the cases that the Warrens investigated. While writing that book, the Warrens agreed to grant him the exclusive rights to their stories, meaning that nobody could create “competing work” that was based on their lives. Years later, Lorraine Warren granted Warner Bros. the rights to their case files for the Conjuring series, but Brittle claims that the rights were no longer hers to give, since she had already given them to him.


Brittle has been fighting Warner Bros. pretty much since then, with one of the most recent interactions coming when he sent the studio a cease-and-desist letter during the production of The Conjuring 2. Warner Bros. ignored it, claiming that Brittle can’t own the rights to the Warrens’ stories because nobody can own the rights to “historical facts,” but that only prompted Brittle to fire back with one of pop culture’s all-time greatest legal arguments: The Warrens’ stories about investigating ghosts can’t be “historical facts” because ghosts aren’t real. To be more specific, Brittle says that a lot of the Warrens’ stories are based on lies about what they experienced, which makes them anything but “historical facts.”

It doesn’t sound like the “ghosts aren’t real” line has been formally introduced in court yet, possibly because Brittle is waiting for the real trial to begin before he drops that hammer, but it’ll hopefully turn the whole thing into a Miracle On 34th Street-style spectacle where Warner Bros. is forced to somehow prove that the Annabelle doll is actually possessed by a demon or whatever. Maybe Warner Bros. can haul in bags of letters from frightened children who were terrorized by evil dolls?

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