Tyler Perry and Lions Gate Entertainment face copyright suit over 'Good Deeds'

By Jon Campisi | Nov 30, 2012

A Philadelphia woman is suing actor/director Tyler Perry and a movie production house

over claims that the defendants engaged in copyright infringement when they used elements of a book authored by the plaintiff for the film Good Deeds, which was released earlier this year.

Terri V. Donald, who lists a Philadelphia address, and is a current enlistee in the U.S. Army, claims in her civil action that she wrote a book titled “Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit,” a copy of which she sent to Tyler Perry Studios for review and feedback.

The lawsuit, which was filed Nov. 27 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by attorney Simon J. Rosen, states that the plaintiff’s work had already been copyrighted at the time Donald sent it to Tyler Perry’s company for consideration of adapting it into a motion picture.

Donald, however, never ended up entering into any agreement with either Tyler Perry Studios or co-defendant Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. that would permit the defendants to adapt the book into a film, the complaint alleges.

The movie Good Deeds, the suit claims, is “so substantially similar” to the plaintiff’s book as to constitute unlawful copyright infringement under federal law.

In her lawsuit, Donald claims that the defendants possessed no rights to the book at the time they decided to use its contents and adapt it into a major motion picture.

The movie, according to an Internet synopsis, is about Wesley Deeds, a businessman who falls for a single mom who works as a cleaning lady at his office building.

The film was released commercially on Feb. 24 of this year, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint contains counts of copyright infringement and accounting and constructive trust.

Donald seeks $150,000 in statutory damages, more than $75,000 in actual damages, counsel fees and injunctive relief.

On the latter, Donald seeks to have a judge order the defendants to display on advertisements and during the film’s ending credits that it was based upon the plaintiff’s novel.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-06629-HB.

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