22 December 2015Copyright

Screenwriters cry copyright foul in Dwayne Johnson football drama

Broadcaster Home Box Office’s (HBO) television series “Ballers”, starring Dwayne Johnson, is the centre of a copyright claim filed by two screenplay writers.

Everette Silas and Sherri Littleton, screenwriters based in California, filed the complaint on December 17 at the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Mark Wahlberg, a producer on the show, and Johnson, also a producer, are both named as defendants in the complaint.

The complainants argue that they held meetings with HBO executives in 2008 and 2009 over the creation of a television series called “Off Season”. “Off Season” centres on the lives of National Football League players after the season has finished.

However, a 2009 agreement was not finalised after the plaintiffs were asked to remove their names from the “created by” credits.

On June 21, 2015, HBO broadcast the first episode of “Ballers”. “Ballers” focuses on ex-NFL player Spencer Strasmore, played by Johnson, looking to find success in the business world after his retirement from the sport.

The claimants state that the HBO show “borrows heavily” from “Off Season”, including “physical appearance of the characters and their vehicles, and plots, scenes, as well as story lines that are virtually identical to the materials that the defendants had access to”.

Silas and Littleton described the works as “virtually identical” and “strikingly similar” and have requested the court find HBO, as well as Johnson and Wahlberg liable for copyright infringement.

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