Copyright laws, a necessary evil like the government? Bob Sullivan wrote several amicable letters to Dreamworks before finally filing in US Federal Court in NYC awaiting and expecting an epic David vs Goliath battle. When the smoke finally cleared 94 copyright infringements were proven to occur in the 2005 film, “The Island” a remake or blatant ripoff of “Clonus Body Parts”, a low $ 200K budget 1979 film that seemingly bore no resemblance to the $126 million blockbuster. Goliath’s gargantuan almost 1000 fold embellished makeover resulted in a seven figure settlement out of court.
After penning more than 10 + million words, crafting more than 25,000 original scenes in 37 thrillers, more than 30 years of IP, adapted to screenplays, 85 scripts and counting, it was inevitable that copyright infringements would ultimately occur. 127 + in fact and counting, the prolific wordsmith has noted. As Keith Richards so succinctly said once, “It doesn’t matter who stole what from whom, it’s the price of an education.” Does it matter? I beg to differ. Not only was copy and pasting too tempting for Amazon Studio writers, bottom feeders hacked into his computers to steal 30 yrs of IP. (Intellectual Property) to distribute up the Amblin Studio et al. food chain. The criminal investigation is ongoing to establish a digital footprint to determine who accessed and stole his files. The studios make billions of dollars from films, a highly collaborative effort by many highly talented creative people. One must give credit where credit is due!
“The Great Museum Heist”, a Boston Legal type thriller that delved into the 1991 theft of 13 Vermeers and Rembrandts worth a half a billion dollars from the Isabella Gardner Museum remains a mystery. The FBI still has a $5 million reward leading to the whereabouts of the masterpieces. The script was presented to Simon West and Front St Productions the summer before the release of the highly acclaimed “The Blacklist” TV series. Near the end of the 1st season, an identical scene from the script appeared in an episode, (1.06) James Spader sitting in front of “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (one of the 13 missing masterpieces) on an easel in a darkened room…Inspiration vs execution? Without an idea there is no great work of art, writing or scientific discovery. Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
“Alligator (Deinosuchus – prehistoric crocodile) Alley” dealt with Dr Paul Jacob’s remarkable research into regeneration of limbs and birth defects. The discovery of “alliglobulins” aided in his work. The well researched script encompassed everything from the transformations of the scientist into a reptilian creature reverting back to human form, MEMs or aerosolized Denali like device, thermal and infrared camouflage, engineering the next reptilian breed of soldiers, etc encountered in The Amazing Spiderman (2012). It was pitched to countless producers via InkTip in 2008 well before the film’s release. It must’ve piqued the interest of James Vanderbit because Dr Paul Jacobs not only mirrors the character and efforts of Dr Connors in The Amazing Spiderman but is interchangeable. Coincidence? Inspiration vs execution? Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
The screenwriter was equally shocked and honored when he saw Jurassic World for the 1st time. He said “I wrote that….” several times throughout the film, and recognized several distinct scenes very similar to some of his scripts. Coincidence? Inspiration vs execution? Were his scripts merely a tantalizing smorgasbord from which the writers and creators could sample, choosing the most visually appealing, cinematographically compelling concepts, dialogue and scenes, discarding the unwanted words, concepts and scenes then subtly rework, dress them up and seamlessly incorporate them into their script? There was ample access. Bernie pitched The ROM to 20,000 + paleontologists round the planet, many animatronix experts, and industry insiders. Bernie had posted 66 (in respect to Michael Crichton who died at the age of 66 on Nov 4, 2008) feature scripts to Amazon Studios that were repeatedly raided, copy pasted, claimed as their own, rewritten by wannabe writers or passed along up the food chain to top brass at studios. Stage 32….countless scripts were submitted to film studios via InkTip, many contests through Utube and all associated staffers. Legal action and a criminal investigation are ongoing.
While Jurassic Park was in production hell, Kathleen Kennedy stated after Michael Cricthon died, maybe it’s a sign? maybe we should only have 3 Jurassic Park films. Bernie said it’s not a sign, Michael left a hell of a legacy, we have to carry the torch! The 2010 BOSI Utube video pitch contest challenged writers to give their best. Bernie profusely researched the subject matter, contacting animatronix experts, paleontologists from Bejing to Berlin to Berkeley. He pitched “The ROM”, a 120 pg script adapted from his 365 pg 1999 thriller, to 20,000 people inside and outside the industry. It was voted #1 with more than 20,000 Utube views. 2 million people wanted to see it in 3D. Ultimately 2 producers including Paul Sladkus, a highly acclaimed CBS producer with 150 shows under his belt and founder of Good News Planet Broadcast explored making a $100 + million movie. Bernie consulted with paleontologists from around the planet, several animatronix experts, prepared elaborate storyboards and more than half a dozen concepts and scripts which Paul presented on his behalf to his vast network. After preparing 3 more compelling scripts, the writer pleaded for a chance to get a seat at the highly coveted creative round table at Amblin/Dreamworks, etc and be given a fair shake as part of the collaborative team. Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
The ROM, written in 1999, a complex 365 pg novel with colourful characters, adapted in 2010, inspired much research into animatronix dinosaurs, SDS (Spherical Drive Systems) ie gyrospheres and omnidirectional motorbikes etc that resulted in highly unique ‘forms of expression’, significant similarities’ that pass the intrinsic and extrinsic tests for copyright infringement. “Fox in the henhouse” scene as in Jurassic World was merely scaled up from Bernie’s script. A raptor invades a chicken coop at Grand Poultry that forces the fowls to flee. The petting zoo in Jurassic World is similar to Toronto Island’s timeless park from The ROM. The Indominus Rex bears a striking resemblance to Viciousaurus in The ROM, the author’s hybrid creation with infrared and thermal camouflage,etc Perhaps a little too cliche for the producers? With production notes they’d eventually have arrived at the same name. TRex, PredatorX, IRex? The Indominus leaves it’s claws marks similar to the raptor’s scratchings in Petroglyph Park near Peterborough in The ROM as if to indisputably signify “we were here.” Inspiration vs execution? Bigger budgets demand more dramatic embellishment. Many more copyright infringements are cited.
Dr’s Gum and Robinson characters in Bernie’s script ‘Bury Me Under The Volcano’ partly alluded to the Swiss Family Robinson and future family plans for the dynamic duo, are interchangeable with Claire (meaning bright or famed) and Owen (alluding to Richard Owen, the British paleontologist who coined the term ‘dinosaur’?) Claire is unable to recall the age of the two children as is Dr Robinson. Through their terrific trials, tribulations and encounters with the two TRexs, resourcefully overcome the ordeal and discover that they are indeed better, stronger together. Most of the other characters are interchangeable, military expertise, park staff, tourists and so on. Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
He persisted with 3 more scripts “Terror Island”, a billionaire introduces an extinct Caspian Tiger to his private island playground. Unfortunately the scientists introduce smilodon, pterydactyl, etc into the missing strands of DNA to create a ‘bigger bang for the buck’, ‘more teeth’, bigger jaws,etc. Hellish uncontrollable ‘jeepers creepers’ type hybrids. are the result. They too escape from their enclosures by leaving deceptive claw marks. The creatures beeline for the resort like the pterydactyls to wreak havoc on unsuspecting attendees. The deadly military response is equally calculated. Chapter 11 foreclosure is inevitable, the coveted technology is transferred off the island. A fleeing cougar, the two legged type, is also ‘airlifted’ and picked up by the creature’s talons in Terror Island, sealing the nanny’s fate as in Jurassic World. Numerous significant similarities , too coincidental, are cited in form of expression that pass the extrinsic (objective) and intrinsic (subjective) tests an average person sees. Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
“Bury Me Under The Volcano” explores a prehistoric world like the short lived Terra Nova TV series much like Sir Conan Doyle’s Lost World when Doyle wanted to kill off Sherlock Holmes in his series as Dr Bernie Unrau hoped to kill off “Dr Gum”, his gumshoe detective to go onto other projects. Several scintilating scenes and human-dinosaur encounters were explored, specifically significantly similar, a scientist is pinned against the lagoon wall facing certain death by an attacking pterosaur, a mososaur broadsides the beast in the nick of time and drags it under the surface. similar to the clash of TRex titans culminating in IRex’s fate in the lagoon in Jurassic World. Several other scenes are cited. Coincidence? Inspiration vs execution? Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
“Alligator (aka Deinosuchus – prehistoric crocodile) Alley” reared it’s ugly head once again. As Hoskins in Jurassic World alluded to highly trained thermally and infrared camouflaged, raptor/reptilian killing machines capable of culling the cunning insurgents in Tora Bora,etc, Alligator Alley presented similar solutions, ie a future generation fighting force of highly trained geneticall engineered hybrid reptiles. As Chris Pratt comments “depends what they cooked up in the lab” raising concerns in Jurassic World as it appeared in Alligator Alley, what have they created? Coincidence? Inspiration vs execution? Which came first the dinosaur or the egg? Several copyright infringements are cited. Legal action and investigations are ongoing.
Were a handful of highly creative minds on the same wavelength? Probably. Michael Crichton’s concept of dinosaur cloning albeit brilliant is not copyrightable, but the ‘form of expression is’. Michael’s scripts, oft rewritten by script doctors, were rejected as was Mark Protosevich’s (of I Am Legend fame) during Amblin’s 10 yrs embroiled in production hell seeking fresh, unique,inspiring scripts to further the film franchse. 113+ significant similarities in ‘form of expression’ that pass the extrinsic (objective) and intrinsic (subjective) tests that an ordinary person would see were discovered. Inspiration vs execution? There was ample access. Scripts were secretly or covertly accessed from Bernie’s computer database ie stolen via hackers or USB flash drives and memory cards. He’s seriously considering air gap security. 30 yrs of IP piratted, sold, reworked, claimed as their own or slipped to top studio brass unbeknownst to Bernie without collaborating, without his consent or being paid. Everyone’s lied under oath. Who to believe? Legal action and criminal investigations are ongoing in this highly controversial matter involving 127 + copyright infringements and counting ie ‘significant similarities’ in ‘form of expression’ that pass the intrinsic (subjective) and extrinsic (objective) tests that any moviegoer would recognise that may or may not be settled in the courts or addressed in a higher circuit or supreme court.
It’s odd that one of Bernie’s scripts ‘Subterranea’ was amongst the stolen database of IP, scripts, pdfs, material etc. Reference to the ‘sandhogs’ (hard working folks that built the NYC subway & water supply deep underground contributing to over 1 billion gallons of fresh water/day) described in his script appeared in the TV series Billions in the pre trial jury selection during the convoluted legal wrangling. Art oft imitates life. Bob Sullivan proved 94 copyright infringements for a seven figure settlement. Bernie has shown 113+ ‘significant similarities’ in ‘form of expression’ that pass the intrinsic (subjective) that the average person sees and extrinsic (objective) tests. It reminds me of the line from the film Joe vs The Volcano – “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” Before going to a job interview to pitch the final draft of a Jurassic World sequel, after hundreds of revisions, it’s blatantly stolen. With an entertainment IP attorney present, forced to sue your potential employer? Without everyone’s specific invaluable contribution, the tremendous time and money invested to develop a complex concept, the set design, costumes, locations, preproduction, casting, crew, cinematography, editing, marketing, distributon… the inspiration for the concept may never reach fruition nor a green light and ultimately the silver screen. The prolific penmanship, time and effort expended by the writer to create so many truly imaginative, highly original stories, concepts, scenes dialogue, colorful characters, feel, mood, locations so significantly similar in ‘form of expression’ leads one to hope this experience will teach us all a lesson, that film making is a highly creative collaborative endeavor. Copyright laws are there for a reason. We are nations of laws that everyone must respect. The law has teeth. http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/dreamworks-animation-wage-fixing-lawsuit-settlement-1201964425/ http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/disney-settlement-wage-fixing-anti-poaching-animation-1201975084/ http://cmovieshd.com/movie/big-fat-liar/watch/ We must be grateful and thankful for everyone’s contribution and give credit where credit is due.
Since Bernie researched, explored and continued to craft more than half a dozen concepts and storylines including the recent “Lion Island aka “Ngala Prehistoric Park” aka “Dino Island”,”Dead Hand” and “The Fifth Pillar”, it’s inevitable and only a matter of time before a highly creative collaboration results, credit’s finally given where credit is due even if it’s the smallest, most insignificant name at the bottom of the film credits or movie poster consisting of a long list of highly talented writers, producers, cast and crew, etc.Perspiration, persistence and perseverance always pay off. It’s only a matter of time. You don’t always get what you wish for but you always get what you work for! After the prolific penmanship resulting in 37 books, 85 screenplays, 25,000 + original scenes, 10 + million words, inevitably he, as we all, reap what we sow. Dream Big!