California native James Franco sued over film

Every Los Angeles author, musician and movie maker enjoys admiration for his or her work. Some people like others’ books, music and films so much that they draw inspiration for other works from it. Then, there are those who would like to capitalize on someone else’s property by copying it.

A screenwriter who holds the rights to the novel “Ham on Rye” by late author Charles Bukowski is suing actor James Franco. The California native and his production company are charged with lifting scenes and dialogue directly from the novel without permission. Franco is the director of a film called “Bukowski,” reportedly adapted from “Ham on Rye,” set for release later in 2014.

The copyright infringement lawsuit asks a federal judge to stop the release of Franco’s film. The complaint also requests damages or a $150,000 settlement. Settlements may include licensing agreements that satisfy copyright holders and defendants.

The screenwriter said he and Franco signed a 2009 agreement over rights to turn the Bukowski novel into a movie. The actor-director apparently read a screenplay the plaintiff wrote for “Ham on Rye.” The deal was canceled the following year.

The plaintiff claims he has held the copyright to the novel, including movie rights, for two decades. The screenwriter said he never gave permission for anyone to move ahead with a film based on the book. When confronted about “Bukowski” rumors, Franco told the British copyright holder there was a project in the works “based on one of” the novelist’s biographies, apparently without mentioning which of the 60 Bukowski novels he meant.

A licensing agreement can be an acceptable solution to a copyright infringement dispute. It’s important for copyright holders to understand what they own before agreeing to licensing terms. Copyright owners have the exclusive rights to reproduce works and create derivative works by changing the original as well as rights to display, distribute and perform works.

Source: CBS Los Angeles, “Actor James Franco Sued For Copyright Infringement” No author given, Apr. 25, 2014