Applying for copyright protection comes with certain expectations for most people. Chief among them is protection from infringement and the right to seek damages in the event that your work is imitated or duplicated in any way. While some people may believe that they can get away with violating copyright law, the law often catches up with these people, which is what a case out of another state is highlighting for our California readers this month.
After applying for and presumably being granted a copyright in 1999 for a screenplay in Georgia, a screenwriter hired agents to show his screenplay to producers in Hollywood. Reports indicate that an executive at Warner Bros. saw the script and "loved it." But when the screenwriter spoke with the executive about the script, one of his agents told him "the deal [was] off."
Later, in 2011, the screenwriter was told by a friend that Warner Bros. had posted a synopsis of a movie to their website. After reading the synopsis, the screenwriter noted substantial similarities between his copyrighted screenplay and the Warner Bros. film that was going to be announced the following year.
Because the screenwriter knew that Warner Bros. had seen his script, the fact that the second screenplay was nearly identical to his own raised suspicion in his mind that his copyright may have been infringed upon. It's because of this suspicion that he filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. for copyright infringement. He has also named the executive who originally saw the copyrighted script as well as the new movie's screenwriter and director.
It's unknown if he is seeking any damages or to what amount the restitution will be.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Writer Calls "Gilligan's Island" Movie a Rip Off," Nick McCain, Aug. 27, 2014