Associated Press (US), February 11, 1998

Devil's Advocate video release delayed

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A federal judge issued an injunction Tuesday blocking the video release of the film Devil's Advocate because of a copyright dispute over a sculpture depicted in the movie.

But U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III delayed the order for 48 hours to give studio executives time to settle part of a copyright lawsuit on their own.

The judge ordered Warner Bros. to delay releasing the film until a jury could decide whether it illegally copied the work of a prominent local artist. The movie, which stars Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, was to be released on video Feb. 17.

Sculptor Frederick Hart and the Washington National Cathedral filed suit against Warner Bros. over the use of his copyrighted bas-relief sculpture Ex Nihilo. The sculpture, found at the cathedral's main entrance, depicts the creation of mankind from chaos as told in the book of Genesis.

The work features male and female nudes in various poses. In the film, an image of a sculpture comes to life and writhes erotically in the apartment of the devil.

Hart and the cathedral claim confusion between the work and the sculpture in the film has damaged both their reputations. Hart also is known for the Three Soldiers bronze statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

Warner Bros. attorney Robert Schwartz offered to negotiate with Killefer and cathedral lawyers to prevent Ellis' injunction from going into effect. The judge agreed and arranged for another federal judge to act as a mediator.

Killefer said he wanted the studio to alter the movie to disguise the sculptures. He also wanted Warner Bros. to launch a publicity campaign acknowledging that it was not authorized to use Hart's work.

Asked if it would be possible to recall the videos, which already have been shipped to stores, and alter specific images, Killefer said: "I have every confidence that they can pull it off."




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Devil's Advocate, The

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