Copyright Lawsuit Hits Top-Rated TV Show “Empire”
Ron Newt, author of “Bigger than Big,” filed suit in April against 20th Century Fox for breach of implied contract and copyright infringement. The poorly drafted summons and complaint was not taken seriously by Fox until it was recently amended by Newt’s new legal team. The amended complaint is now alleging $10 million in damages and has been edited sufficiently, to warrant a response from 20th Century Fox.
By way of background, Newt authored “Bigger than Big”, a book, screenplay and DVD documentary based on Newt’s life. Bigger than Big features Prince Diamond, an African American male in his 40’s who has risen from the ghetto and pimp roots to make it big in the hip hop music industry. Newt alleges that the characters, plot, setting, scene, dialogue, and theme of the hit television series, “Empire,” is strikingly similar to his writings.
Newt has alleged that while promoting his book in 2010 he met with Terrence Howard for several hours and told him his life story. He has argued that Terrence Howard retained copies of book and various other documents, which is considerably similar to the hit television show, Empire, which Howard stars in.
Fox has retained Linda Burrow, Esq., one of the top rated Intellectual Property Litigation attorneys in Los Angeles to defend the lawsuit. Ms. Burrow has filed a 34-page memorandum disputing the validity of the lawsuit. Ms. Burrows has argued, in pertinent part:
Plaintiff’s cause of action for copyright infringement fails because as a matter of law because (1) Mr. Newt’s works are not substantially similar to the television series in manner protected by copyright law and the copyright application is defective as a matter of law; and (2) plaintiff’s cause of action for breach of implied contract fails because the complaint fails to plead facts that Defendants had privity of contract and the failure to plead that Defendants actually used the works.
Newt has argued that there as an understanding between him and Howard that if his works were used he would be paid accordingly. The defendants argue that Howard has never claimed to have any role in creating the show Empire.