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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
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A screenplay has surfaced that claims to be based on "public

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A screenplay has surfaced that claims to be based on "public records," but is actually based upon my book, Zora Hurston and the Strange Case of Ruby McCollum. There are actually scenes directly out of the book.

What are my rights and how should I proceed?

Art Ellis
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

Are they using the same names as in your book, same or similar dialogue? How can you be sure that the work is yours? Did you copyright your book before you published it?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Same names, but it is a true story so that won't hold against them.


Yes, my work is copyrighted.


They used many scenes that I used and which are not available anywhere else. They also use a character not immediately associated with the story to advance the story as I did. They also used my publication of the trial transcript, which would normally be in the public domain, but I had to reassemble it from pieces (it is over 50 years old).


I can go scene by scene and document association with my work, and would guarantee that they cannot do so with public domain sources.


It does appear that potentially your own words were being used without your consent. In that situation the work, being copyrighted, is protected, since their work would then be based not on public events but your interpretation and version of those public events (which is much different and protected). I would strongly suggest you consider investing into a copyright attorney who can send a cease and desist to whomever wrote the screenplay without giving you credit, and to whomever is currently evaluating it to see if they would end up pursuing something out of it. Then if they still do not grant you credit or stop pursuing this idea, file suit for damages and for writer credit to be given to you for the screenplay.

Good luck.

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