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Tyler Perry, Lionsgate Win 'Good Deeds' Lawsuit

A writer fails to convince a judge that the 2012 film was substantially similar to his own book.

Tyler Perry's Good Deeds Tyler Perry Gabrielle Union - H 2012
Quantrell Colbert/Lionsgate
"Tyler Perry's Good Deeds"

Another day, another failed copyright infringement lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Tyler Perry Studios and Lionsgate convinced a New York federal judge to dismiss a claim that the 2012 film Good Deeds was taken from plaintiff Terri Donald's 2007 book, Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit.

Donald filed the case last November, and alleged that he had sent a copy of his book to Tyler Perry's production company before filming began. The movie centered on a wealthy businessman played by Perry who meets a struggling single mother. It grossed $35 million at the box office.

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U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley III stated his reasons for granting defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings at a hearing today.

According to Tom Ferber at Pryor Cashman, who defended Perry and Lionsgate, the judge stressed that copyright law only protects expression and not ideas and that the only similarity between the two works was that they both concerned a romance between a wealthy black man and a woman who was experiencing hardship.

Donald was represented in the case by Philadelphia attorney Simon Rosen.

Ferber says that despite the overwhelming number of plaintiffs who allege idea theft and eventually fail in courts, it hasn't discouraged the attempts.

"If anything, I see more plaintiffs crawling out of the woodwork than 10, 20 years ago," he says. "Everyone thinks that if they have an idea and there is something else like it, it must be copyright infringement."

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner