Netflix has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a Georgian chess grasp who alleged that she was defamed in an episode of “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Nona Gaprindashvili argued that her accomplishments have been disparaged when a chess announcer within the Netflix sequence wrongly acknowledged that she had “by no means confronted males.” Actually, Gaprindashvili had confronted 59 male rivals by 1968, the yr during which the sequence was set.
Netflix had tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, claiming that the present’s creators had broad license beneath the First Modification. However in January a federal choose rejected that argument, holding that fictional works aren’t immune from lawsuits in the event that they defame actual individuals.
Netflix appealed the ruling to the ninth Circuit Court docket of Appeals, however on Tuesday the case was dismissed.
“The events are happy that the matter has been resolved,” stated lawyer Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, who represented Gaprindashvili.
The phrases of the settlement weren’t disclosed. A Netflix spokesperson additionally stated, “We’re happy the matter has been resolved.”
“The Queen’s Gambit” portrays Beth Harmon, a fictional American who turns into a world chess champion. Within the closing episode, Harmon defeats a male competitor at a match in Moscow. An announcer explains that her opponent underestimated her. “The one uncommon factor about her, actually, is her intercourse. And even that’s not distinctive in Russia. There’s Nona Gaprindashvili, however she’s the feminine world champion and has by no means confronted males.”
Gaprindashvili, now 81, argued that the reference was “grossly sexist and belittling.”
Netflix argued that the reference was meant to acknowledge Gaprindashvili, not disparage her. The sequence employed two chess specialists in an effort to get the small print right.
The streamer additionally relied on a 2018 ruling within the California Court docket of Enchantment involving the FX present “Feud.” In that case, Olivia de Havilland claimed that she had been falsely portrayed as a “vulgar gossip.” The appeals courtroom sided with FX, discovering that creators have a First Modification proper to interpret historical past and that real-life topics do not need veto energy over how they’re depicted.
Within the Gaprindashvili case, nevertheless, U.S. District Decide Virginia Phillips discovered that doesn’t imply that creators have an unfettered proper to defame individuals.
“Netflix doesn’t cite, and the Court docket shouldn’t be conscious, of any circumstances precluding defamation claims for the portrayal of actual individuals in in any other case fictional works,” the choose wrote. “The truth that the Sequence was a fictional work doesn’t insulate Netflix from legal responsibility for defamation if all the weather of defamation are in any other case current.”
The settlement signifies that the ninth Circuit won’t get to weigh in — at the very least in the intervening time — on the place the road needs to be drawn when actual persons are portrayed in fictional works.