by Barry Burch Jr.
Tyler Perry is certainly not the first movie producer to be sued, but he is the latest to come out on top of a copyright infringement lawsuit. It has not been easy for Perry; however, who has been sued twice in the last 12 months by distraught writers, claiming Perry stole their material.
The first of the two lawsuits was filed back in November by author, Terri Donald. Donald claims that he sent Perry a copy of his 2007 novel, “Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit,” and the actor used it as the premise for his 2012 film, “Good Deeds.”
But fortunately for Perry, Tyler Perry Studios and Lionsgate Entertainment were able to persuade a New York federal judge to dismiss the claim. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, two attorneys for Perry and Lionsgate, Tom Ferber and Pryor Cashman, said a judge ruled in their favor because the single similarity between Perry’s movie and Donald’s novel was that there was a romance between a wealthy black man and a woman, who was experiencing hardship. According to the judge this was not enough evidence because copyright law only protects expression and not ideas.
The movie, Good Deeds, which grossed $35 million at the box office, is centered around a wealthy businessman character played by Perry, who meets a single woman, struggling with a child.
Donald was going for the gold, seeking $225,000 in damages. Not to mention an injunction requiring that Perry’s company add a credit for the book in both the opening and closing credits of the film.
According to Atlanta Black Star, the remaining lawsuit against Perry was filed earlier this year by screenwriter William James. Though in this case a screenplay rather than a novel, James, too, claims Perry stole his premise. James claims Perry intentionally lifted his 2013 directorial effort, Temptation, from James’ 2009 screenplay, Lovers Kill.
The case has not been resolved, and James is seeking unspecified damages.