Spike Lee, Nate Parker sued for copyright infringement over ‘American Skin’

Two independent filmmaking brothers claim that Parker and Lee’s 2019 film stole several elements from their 2017 screenplay.

Spike Lee and Nate Parker were hit with a lawsuit over copyright infringement by independent filmmakers and brothers Selton and Langston Shaw. The Shaws claim that Lee and Parker’s film, American Skin, stole from their screenplay, A Routine Stop.

The Shaw brothers, and their production company, filed the lawsuit against Lee, Parker, and production companies Tiny Giant Entertainment and TM Films Inc., as well as the film’s copyright holder, ASP Film LLC, as reported by The Wrap.

According to documents, the suit claims that Lee, who presented the 2019 film, and Parker, who wrote, directed and starred in the film, copied the themes, storyline, characters and even the logline from their 2017 screenplay.

“We put our blood, sweat and tears into turning a tragic reality of society into a screenplay that would resonate with audiences, only to see someone else earn acclaim and profit from our work,” the Shaw brothers said. “We filed this lawsuit to get back what was wrongfully taken from us.”

American Skin is the story of a Black military veteran, played by Parker, seeking justice for the death of his teenage son, who was killed by police officers during a traffic stop.

The film premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, touted as “A Spike Lee Presentation.” It was then released to selected theaters in January this year, as well as several streaming services, including Amazon, Apple, Vudu and Google Play, according to Deadline.

The complaint reads that the themes between American Skin and A Routine Stop are “identical” and that both screenplays bare “uncanny” similarities.

“In 2017, the Shaw brothers submitted their screenplay to the TV One Screenplay competition, which is a contest organized with and supported by the American Black Film Festival. While the brothers’ screenplay did not win the competition, it was circulated to a group of industry professionals who served as judges. Lo and behold, two years later, American Skin premiered at the Venice Film Festival with plot lines, characters, and themes substantially similar to A Routine Stop.”

In American Skin, Parker’s character holds a police station hostage in order to create a makeshift trial for the officer who shot his son. The complaint states that this plot line draws from the Shaw brothers’ screenplay. “Among other things, in both A Routine Stop and American Skin, the main character, with a group of his friends, kidnaps and puts on a ‘show trial,’” the complaint read.

American Skin was Parker’s first film since 2016’s The Birth of a Nation. Parker wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the biopic about the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. Publicity for the film was mired in controversy over a 1999 rape allegation made against Parker. The movie only grossed just under $17 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 01: Director Nate Parker and Spike Lee attend “American Skin” photocall during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 01, 2019 in Venice, Italy. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Blogs

Rihanna responds to pregnancy rumors with hilarious DM to a fan

Rihanna responds to pregnancy rumors with hilarious DM to a fan

As Rihanna became a national hero in her nation of Barbados, social media was rife with pregnancy rumors.The singer is no stranger to being subject to rumors about having a baby on the way and has recently been modeling clothes from her Fenty X Savage line.Internet sleuths claimed they spotted a baby bump and a…

Diddy Bids Millions To Buy Back Namesake Brand Sean John Out Of Bankruptcy

Diddy Bids Millions To Buy Back Namesake Brand Sean John Out Of Bankruptcy

Sean “Diddy” Combs became the hip-hop mogul we recognized him as today by branching outside of music to develop businesses in fields like philanthropy, spirits, media production, fragrance and most notably fashion. One major source of the empire was his pioneering namesake label Sean John, which at the moment is 90% owned by apparel wholesaler…

Netflix is making a feature film about the Thanksgiving grandma text mix-up

Netflix is making a feature film about the Thanksgiving grandma text mix-up

One grandma’s mistaken text message is now being adapted into a Netflix feature film.In 2016, Jamal Hinton, a senior in high school, received a text from a grandmother inviting him over for Thanksgiving dinner.Hinton quickly figured out it wasn’t his grandmother, but grandma Wanda Dench still extended her invitation to the then stranger to come…

Headlines