Tiger King‘s second season wasn’t a world-dominating colossus like its predecessor, but still served up a rollercoaster ride of big personalities, big claims, and big cats. Alongside all that the show has a history of attracting legal trouble and now The Hollywood Reporter says the second season has been sued by Morgan Creek Productions for using footage from 1995’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
Morgan Creek’s lawsuit against Netflix and Goode Films argues that the clips of Ace Ventura, which add up to five seconds in total, “enhance the commercial value of Tiger King”, add “levity”, and imply that Ace Ventura‘s producers are “promoting Tiger King favorably.”
I suspect Morgan Creek’s lawyers know what they’re doing. Tiger King‘s defense will likely be that such short clips of the film fall under ‘Fair Use’ and that the extremely short length means they didn’t need to get permission.
Unfortunately — as many a budding YouTuber has discovered — you fall into problems with Fair Use when the material in question isn’t directly related to your content, no matter the length of the clip. I suppose you could argue that Ace Ventura‘s animal rights themes are linked to Tiger King‘s subject, though it’d be harder to claim they’re absolutely necessary to make the point.
Morgan Creek claims to have attempted to solve the dispute amicably with no success, and that they’ve been forced to file a lawsuit. The company is seeking statutory damages (which may be substantive given that the show was watched by millions of people), attorney’s fees, and an order that Netflix and Goode Films be permanently prohibited from using any clips owned by Morgan Creek.
This will probably be settled out of court, but if you want to watch the original Ace Ventura-featuring Tiger King I’d do it now.