Actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry has emerged victorious in a federal copyright infringement lawsuit brought against him by a woman claiming his film “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” was based on her play.
Jurors in Marshall, Texas found that Donna West did not provide enough evidence to support her claim, according to the Associated Press. In her lawsuit filed in May 2007, West argued that Perry could’ve lifted material from her play “Fantasy of a Black Woman” when it was performed three times in 1991 in Dallas, or 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.
“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.
West, who lives in North Texas, asked for damages and profits made from Perry’s 2005 film, which earned some $50 million in theaters. Her attorneys 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.”
Also named in West’s lawsuit: the actor’s company, Tyler Perry Inc., because it sells the movie online and by mail; and Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc., which funded and distributed the film.