The law does not concern itself with trifling pinball-machine depictions

“The unauthorized placement of a pinball machine in a Mel Gibson movie might have technically violated the copyright laws but it is not actionable, a federal judge has ruled.” In the 2000 movie “What Women Want”, a Silver Slugger pinball machine is fleetingly visible in one scene, never for more than a few seconds at a time. Judge Denny Chin sensibly ruled that the pinball maker had no right to sue Paramount for royalties given that the machine is a mere element of the background: “It never appears by itself or in a close-up. It is never mentioned and plays no role in the plot.” (Mark Hamblett, NYLJ). Earlier here, here, etc.


  • Don’t companies normally pay for product placement in a movie? You would think that Gottlieb Development would have been happy to get it for free.

  • As much as I oppose frivolous litigation, I, too, might sue if I were involuntarily featured in “What Women Want,” or for that matter in any other Mel Gibson movie that does not involve shooting and/or gouging. I would settle out if, in the DVD editions, they bluescreened in, Greedo-shot-first style, a little sign for me to carry saying “I am not associated with this piece of crap.”