Judge Lets 54 Sudanese Refugees Pursue Fraud And Copyright Claims Over 2014 Reese Witherspoon Film
Mar 25, 2016 12:06 AM EDT
Dozens of Sudanese refugees filed a lawsuit in February this year against the writers and the producers of "The Good Lie," a 2014 flick that stared actress Reese Witherspoon. They have been asked by a judge to pursue their fraud and copyright claims.
According to IMDb, the film was about those who survived starvation, disease, and the militia attacks in Darfur who were able to make their way to America. Witherspoon's character helped them find jobs. However, the character of the actress was charged in the flick for helping the Sudanese refugees.
In a report by The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit could make an impact on how researches are conducted for feature films that are based on true stories. The plaintiffs reportedly sat down with the screenwriter of the film named Margaret Nagle back in 2003. They then shared their life stories and were entitled to be called joint authors of the taped interviews.
The defendants named in the case are Alcon Entertainment and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment with the plaintiffs assertingthat there was a breach of joint venture agreement as well as fraud. Accordingly, they were promised compensation from the film's producer. Since they have not been given the agreed compensation, the plaintiffs demanded an injunction on "The Good Lie."
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May found that the plaintiffs have stated facts that supports their copyright infringement claim which could lead to a permanent injunction. The refugees, who are under an umbrella organization called the Foundation for Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, also asked the judge to issue a declaration proving that they were joint authors.
The judge determined that the claims of the refugees show unjust enrichment, quantum meruit (value for services rendered), and conversion of ideas, which are not preempted by the Copyright Act. Also, it has been ruled that an oral agreement of a joint venture is sufficient.