Apple TV+ 'Servant' copyright suit will be heard

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
An appeals court has ruled that the director of the 2013 film "The Truth About Emanuel" may proceed with her lawsuit against Apple and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.




Initially filed in early 2020 by Francesca Gregorini, writer and director of "The Truth About Emanuel," the suit alleged Apple TV+ series "Servant" not only stole the plot of the film but also aped production and cinematography choices.

Both works center around a mother who cares for a doll as though it were a real child and later begins to form strong bonds with a nanny hired to care for it.

The case was dismissed in May of 2020, when Judge John F. Walter said that "Servant" was not similar enough to "Emanuel."

However, an appeals court has ruled in favor of Gregorini. Tuesday's riling says that the earlier dismissal was "improper" as "reasonable minds could differ on the issue of substantial similarity."

In the initial suit, Gregorini demanded damages, an injunction against further production, a recall of any inventory of the infringing material, supervised destruction of any inventory, disgorgement of all proceeds, and punitive damages.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    XedXed Posts: 1,476member
    Correct me—in detail—f you think I'm wrong, but the notion that you can't use "a mother who cares for a doll as if it were lifelike is not a concept someone can claim to have sole use of. I've certainly scene it used elsewhere.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392190/Grieving-women-buy-lifelike-reborn-baby-dolls-help-mourn-loss.html
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    If that movie is as good as Servant, I’ll have to watch it. This is one of my favourite shows running right now 
    ITGUYINSDJaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 9
    Xed said:
    Correct me—in detail—f you think I'm wrong, but the notion that you can't use "a mother who cares for a doll as if it were lifelike is not a concept someone can claim to have sole use of. I've certainly scene it used elsewhere.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1392190/Grieving-women-buy-lifelike-reborn-baby-dolls-help-mourn-loss.html
    Yeah, it is actually a somewhat common trope. If anything it is far more likely that this was the inspiration - https://wiki.evageeks.org/Kyoko_Zeppelin_Soryu - because it was something that people have actually seen and influenced a ton of stuff (including the Hollywood films "Pacific Rim" and Guardians of the Galaxy 2). The chances of it being influenced by an indie film that was only shown at Sundance and was trashed by critics is pretty much nil. Another thing: the thing with the doll is the only point of similarity. Everything else is entirely different.

    If anyone had the right to sue, it would have been the makers of "The Skeleton Key" as "Get Out" was ... well just see this and decide for yourself (and this YouTuber is FAR from the only one to come to that conclusion): and see.

    Part of me thinks that this is just an attempt on the director's part to get publicity to kick-start her career.
  • Reply 4 of 9
    From Wikipedia:

    On July 21, 2020, the court ordered Francesca Gregorini to pay the defendants' attorneys' fees of $162,467.30. The court emphasized the objective unreasonableness of her claims and derided her attempt to twist two highly dissimilar works into similarity.

    After reading the plot of this film, I can't see how she could possibly win on appeals.   I wonder if she ever paid the defendants in the first case?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 9
    Are previous comment intentionally ignoring the sentence "the suit alleged Apple TV+ series "Servant" not only stole the plot of the film but also aped production and cinematography choices"?

    Maybe read the whole appeal before siding either way?
  • Reply 6 of 9
    Are previous comment intentionally ignoring the sentence "the suit alleged Apple TV+ series "Servant" not only stole the plot of the film but also aped production and cinematography choices"?

    Maybe read the whole appeal before siding either way?
    That 4-page legal document doesn't change which way I'm leaning.  There isn't anything compelling in the favor of Gregorini in there.  If mood and lighting in a movie is considered something "original" then we're in big trouble.  
    stompyStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    Are previous comment intentionally ignoring the sentence "the suit alleged Apple TV+ series "Servant" not only stole the plot of the film but also aped production and cinematography choices"?

    Maybe read the whole appeal before siding either way?
    Ok I did. And what I see is that the only reason this is being allowed to proceed is a minor matter of precedent entirely unrelated to this case.

    Specifically, early dismissal of a copyright case requires a clear matter of law in the extrinsic test. So one could dismiss a case by the original Steamboat Willy against Servant because there is no possibility any "reasonable person" would say the two are related. The case could also be dismissed early if the parts of the work that are claimed to infringe are non-copywritable or tiny (the later is related to the basic concepts of fair use).

    In this case, the claimant is saying the overall concept of the movie has been copied. This clearly fails de minimis, and as the plot is copyrightable, fails the extrinsic test. So the decision to dismiss early is not legally supported and is thus being overturned.

    You will note there is not one single word on the content itself, nor any claim that the case may succeed. This is purely a matter of law. The claimant will now get to pay more money to try again.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    ITGUYINSD said:
    Are previous comment intentionally ignoring the sentence "the suit alleged Apple TV+ series "Servant" not only stole the plot of the film but also aped production and cinematography choices"?

    Maybe read the whole appeal before siding either way?
    That 4-page legal document doesn't change which way I'm leaning.  There isn't anything compelling in the favor of Gregorini in there.  If mood and lighting in a movie is considered something "original" then we're in big trouble.  

    I don't know about "mood" but a lighting design is definitely copyrightable. 
  • Reply 9 of 9
    XotomiXotomi Posts: 1member
    I imagine the production crew paid to use the Newborn Doll, and the plot certainly revolves around its purpose. I remember a children's novel which revolved around a grieving young woman who became unhealthily attached to a doll. I believe it was titled "Zia" a sequel to "Island of the Blue Dolphins." I read it in the 1970's. 

    How much portion of a plot can be accused as infringement? There are plenty of similarly generalized plots, that there must be a line somewhere. Planet Hollywood thought they could stop anyone in the entire world from using the word "planet" in a company name. I imagine some writers might believe they own the copyright to any portion of their plot. The same thing was accused of "Stranger Things" and "Harry Potter," both far more popular than the stories or their writers who filed suit. I won't watch or read them either, as I bet notoriety is all they are after in the end.
Sign In or Register to comment.