Excerpt

The following ran in the March 13, 2013, edition of the Christian Science Monitor. Law professor Jenia Iontcheva Turner provided expertise for this story.

Iran plans to sue makers of 'Argo': Could lawsuit succeed?

Iran's wants to sue the makers of 'Argo,' theOscar-winning film about the 1979 hostage crisis. But legal experts say Iran will have a hard time finding any legitimate court to take the case.

 

March 14, 2013

By Daniel B. Wood

Los Angeles - News reports suggest that Iranian government officials are exploring the idea of suing the makers of “Argo,” saying the Oscar-winning film gave an unrealistic portrayal of Iran during the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. But experts say the legal prospects of such a move are exceedingly dim, suggesting that the move is likely just a publicity stunt to counteract the movie's positive publicity.

To stand any chance of success, the lawsuit would need to be brought in a country that has very loose libel laws, where the film's distributor (Warner Bros.) has assets, and where the government is antagonistic to the US, says Angel Gomez, an attorney with Epstein Becker Green in Los Angeles.

“That’s about the only way that I could see something like this working," he says. "Otherwise, it strikes me as a bit of political theater … but an interesting bit, because Iran is threatening to resort to a judicial system somewhere, instead of threatening blockades, invasions, fatwas, or other more direct actions of the past.”...

But some say the case may fare better in France or Switzerland. For example, in 2011, a Israeli academic with French citizenship filed a lawsuit in French courts  saying that a review of her book in the European Journal of International Law was libelous. Ultimately, the case was thrown out and the plaintiff was ordered to pay punitive damages, but “the academic community was stunned that this case was not immediately thrown out of French courts," says Jenia Iontcheva Turner, a professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law....