Actor/Director Tyler Perry is being sued over a film script, in which a jury was selected in Marshall’s federal court last week to hear a copyright infringement case against the mogul.
Perry was present, under heavy security, for Tuesday’s jury selection process in Marshall, TX. His appearance was deliberately kept secret.
Jurors have been instructed to return at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, to hear evidence before U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis.
The lawsuit was filed May 21, 2007, on behalf of Donna West, who is a Texas resident according to court documents. Ms. West’s attorneys claim Perry’s film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” was “copied largely from the plaintiff’s copyrighted script.” Ms. West is suing Perry individually as well as Tyler Perry Company Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment Inc, reports The Marshall News Messenger.
Perry’s attorneys have filed answers to the lawsuit, denying all allegations of copyright infringement.
The answers say “the materials claimed to have been copied from the plaintiff’s work are not protected by copyright law because they are ideas, facts, conventions or cliches of story-telling, script-writing or movie-making.”
Meanwhile, Perry’s attorneys say “defendants were not aware and had no reason to believe that their acts constituted an infringement of copyright” because the “defendants’ motion picture was created independently of the plaintiff’s allegedly copyrighted script.”
The court papers also claim Ms. West has no recourse under the Copyright Act because of her “failure to register her work prior to the alleged infringement.”
Lions Gate Entertainment “participated in funding, releasing and distributing the film” in February 2005, Ms. West’s complaint says.
It also states Ms. West “created an original script” entitled “Fantasy of a Black Woman” in November 1990 and “performed the script in a play in Dallas” in July 1991.
She obtained a copyright certificate for her musical on March 20, 2006.
Ms. West is asking the jury to grant her pay for “actual damages, plus the amount of the defendants’ profits attributable to the infringement.” She is also seeking “prejudgement and post judgement interest” and “reasonable attorney fees and court costs.”
Ms. West is represented by Aubrey “Nick” Pittman of The Pittman Law Firm, and Joe Kendall, Willie Briscoe and Hamilton Lindley of Provost Umphrey Law Firm
, both of Dallas.
Perry and his companies are represented by Rickey L. Faulkner of Longview and Louis P. Petrich of Leopold, and Petrich & Smith of Los Angeles.
The “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” stars Kimberly Elise, Shemar Moore, Cicely Tyson, Steve Harris, and Perry, who plays Madea in the film.
A Web site describes the movie as “a mix of comedy and drama,” based on Perry’s “immensely popular” play by the same name.
It tells of an Atlanta woman’s heartbreak when her husband of 18 years announces he wants a divorce and literally throws her out of their mansion to make room for the other woman.