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54 Sudanese refugees pursue fraud and copyright claims over 2014 Reese Witherspoon flick

25 March 2016 Entertainment News

Fourth Estate Staff

Hollywood, CA, United States (4E) – A group of 54 Sudanese refugees filed a lawsuit in February this year against the writers and the producers of “The Good Lie,” a 2014 movie that stared actress Reese Witherspoon.

A judge has allowed the refugees to pursue their claims. According to reports, the film was about those who survived starvation, disease, and the militia attacks in Darfur.

The refugees were then able to make their way to America and Witherspoon’s character helped them find jobs. However, the character of the actress was criminally charged in the movie for helping the Sudanese refugees.

The lawsuit could make an impact on how research is conducted for feature films that are based on real life events.

The plaintiffs reportedly sat down with the film's screenwriter, Margaret Nagle, in 2003. They then shared their life stories and were entitled to be called join authors of the taped interviews.

The defendants named in the case are Alcon Entertainment and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment and the plaintiffs asserted that there was a breach of joint venture agreement as well as fraud.

The plaintiffs claim they were promised compensation from the film’s producer. Since they have not been given the agreed compensation, the plaintiffs demanded an injunction on “The Good Lie.”

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May then found that the plaintiffs have stated fact that supports their copyright infringement claim which could lead to a permanent injunction. The refugees, who are under an umbrella organization called the Foundation for Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, also asked the judge to issue a declaration proving that they were joint authors.

The judge also determined that the claims of the refugees show unjust enrichment, quantum meruit , and conversion of ideas, which are not preempted by the Copyright Act. Also, it has been ruled that an oral agreement of a joint venture is sufficient.