Tyler Perry wins suit over copyright infringement

DALLAS (AP) - December 9, 2008

Jurors in the East Texas town of Marshall found Donna West did not present evidence that supported her claim of copyright infringement.

In the lawsuit filed in May 2007, West argued that Perry lifted material her "Fantasy of a Black Woman." The play was performed three times in 1991 in Dallas and West contended Perry could have gained access to the script in 1998 when he presented his plays at the Dallas Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

Perry, who testified during the trial, insisted that his screenplay is an original work. His work on the film gained him several awards and nominations.

"We are very pleased that the jurors understood that Tyler Perry is an incredibly talented person who has no need to copy the work of others," attorney Veronica Lewis said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Attorneys for West plan to seek a new trial.

"Obviously we're very disappointed. We thought we'd made our case," said Willie Briscoe, one of West's attorneys. "I believe that we conclusively demonstrated that Mr. Perry had access to Ms. West's work, that there were striking similarities between her work and his work."

Aside from Perry, West sued the actor's company, Tyler Perry Inc., because it sells the movie online and by mail. West also filed suit against Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc., which funded and distributed the film.

West, who lives in North Texas, asked for damages and profits made from Perry's 2005 film, which earned some $50 million in theaters.

Perry, Steve Harris, Kimberly Elise and Shemar Moore star in the movie, which focuses on a woman whose grandmother helps her after she's dumped for a younger woman by her husband.

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