Friday, November 29, 2013

The Matrix, Terminator, and the Copyright Judgment That Doesn't Exist

"Black Author Wins Copyright Case for Matrix." 

"If it's on the Internet, it must be true"*
That recent blog post, re-posted to Facebook by one of my friends, caught my attention.  And a Google search shows that the story has been spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire.

You can see why.  The post noted that Sophia Stewart, a black writer now living in Salt Lake City, won a HUGE judgment against Warner Brothers, Joel Silver and the Wachoski Brothers, producers of the uber-successful (and profitable) Matrix, and sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.

And there's more.

It seems the judgment also included Terminator, the Arnold Schwatzeneger blockbuster from the 1980s.

Billions of dollars in profits.  All of it stolen from Ms. Stewart's script for The Third Eye. And a judgment for her reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Only it's not true!

Before re-posting the judgment information, I did a little independent research. There is no finding that The Matrix or Terminator were stolen from Ms. Stewart's 1980s script.  There is no judgment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yes, Ms. Stewart filed a lawsuit in 2003.  But despite her reported claims that the media hasn't been publicizing her suit because Time Warner owns all major media outlets, the actual fact is that the court ruled against her.

She lost the case and there is no judgment.  See Stewart v. Wachowski, 574 F.Supp.2d 1074 (C.D. Cal. 2005).  Click HERE for the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California finding that Ms. Stewart was not the author of either The Matrix or Terminator, and that neither work is derivative of her Third Eye script.  For more details, click HERE to view Time Magazine's article debunking this Internet myth.  And if you think that Time is just trying to cover up for its corporate owner, click HERE for the myth-busting report of Snopes.com

But that hasn't stopped the blogs from spreading the story.

The lesson in this case for bloggers and other writers: do your research.  Don't just pass on what you see someplace without checking it out.  Bloggers hungry for material seem to be most prone to this, but writers of every ilk are guilty.

So be sure. As carpenters would say: "Measure twice and cut once."  Don't add to the false stories that permeate Social Media and the Internet.

Be a writer, not a gossip.  Check it out. 



*photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kurtz433/2570525737/">( kurtz )</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>






3 comments:

  1. Has there EVER been a case of copyright infringement/plagarism that has held up in court?

    Pirates of the Caribbean (movie) was plagarized and that went nowhere fast either.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wish this story would go away! Thanks for the links!

    ReplyDelete
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