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A Croatian journalist’s lawsuit against Angelina Jolie for allegedly stealing his book to create her directorial debut won’t interfere with the December 23rd release of In the Land of Blood and Honey.
James Braddock, the plaintiff, has withdrawn his motion for a temporary restraining order after the film’s distributor impressed the judge with arguments about why the motion for temporary injunctive relief was defective.
Braddock claims that Jolie’s film infringes the copyright on his 2007 book, The Soul Shattering. Both works tell the tale of a female character who is imprisoned and subject to much abuse in war-torn Bosnia in the early 1990s. Braddock also claims he discussed his work in detail with the film’s Bosnian producer before Jolie’s movie was made.
Last week, Braddock filed an ex parte motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the film’s release, which set off the defendants, including distributor FilmDistrict, to lodge an objection.
It was noted that Braddock had represented that he knew about the making of the film since early 2010. But instead of filing a lawsuit back then, Braddock had waited to sue until a few mere weeks before the film’s theatrical debut.
U.S. District Judge Robert Dow, Jr. in Illinois said in a hearing last week that there were valid concerns about the timing of the lawsuit and suggested that the late filing would be a consideration when examining equities, harm and the public interest. The judge also noted that the plaintiff hadn’t yet shown that “immediate and irreparable harm would result” from the film’s release and hadn’t yet demonstrated that the opposing parties had been noticed.
Braddock then voluntarily withdrew his motion for a TRO.
Theoretically, Braddock could renew his push for an injunction after curing a few procedural defects, but he likely won’t, not the least of the reasons being that he’d have to post a substantial bond in case he eventually lost the lawsuit. (The judge indicated that the plaintiff had failed to discuss that aspect too in his TRO motion.)
But right now, Braddock faces an even greater threat to his lawsuit over the movie.
Judge Dow has ordered the plaintiff’s lawyers to turn in a brief by tomorrow explaining why the case should proceed in Illinois federal court when the connection to the jurisdiction, according to the judge, “appears to be minimal, at best.”
The parties in the case are based in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as California, so the judge has indicated that he’s leaning to towards moving the case to a federal court in the Golden State.
The transfer would be a small victory for Jolie and the film’s producers. It would allow them to fight the lawsuit on home turf that in recent years has been dubious about these types of copyright infringement claims. In many instances, plaintiffs bringing the lawsuit have been ordered to pay attorney’s fees for the defense.
For now, Braddock has set up a website that talks about the controversy. And Jolie has taken the litigation in stride, saying that she’s never read the plaintiff’s book, that she took her inspiration from many sources, and that the lawsuit is “par for the course. It happens on almost every film.”
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