James Franco Sued Over Charles Bukowski Biopic

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

Savvy Florida moviegoers know that the line between fact and fiction always gets blurred in the screenplay of biographical films. But when the biographical film is about a writer who himself blurred the line between autobiography and fiction, things can get very blurry indeed.

Recently, the star James Franco was sued over his yet-to-be-released biographical film, or “biopic,” about the late author Charles Bukowski. A screenwriter claims that he and Franco entered an agreement in 2009 to begin work on a film based upon Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel “Ham on Rye.” The screenwriter claims that Franco’s rights ended the following year, but that the actor continued to develop a Bukowski biopic. That film, titled “Bukowski,” has now reportedly been finished and is awaiting a distributor.

In his lawsuit, the screenwriter claims that the finished film has substantial similarities to “Ham on Rye,” a work that is still protected by copyright. The screenwriter claims to have his own deal that gives him the exclusive right to develop a film based upon “Ham and Rye,” and claims that Franco’s film will hurt his property rights related to the novel.

It may seem odd to think that copyright could apply to an autobiographical work. Autobiographies and biographies are based on facts, and one cannot hold a copyright on facts. However, one can hold a copyright on the unique creative expression of those facts. Thus, it’s possible for one biographical work to infringe the property rights of another biographical work about the same person. It’s also possible for one person to have the rights to an autobiographical work without having the right to make television and film productions that are explicitly based upon the author’s life story.

Entertainment law is full of head-scratching disputes about the nature of creativity and originality. Florida entertainment law attorneys can tackle these difficult questions when they come up so that their clients can carry on with their work in entertainment and the arts.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “James Franco Sued for Violating Film Rights to Charles Bukowski Novel,” Eriq Gardner, April 25, 2014

The entertainment industry can be a complicated field to navigate. As a trusted leader in Miami entertainment law, ChaseLawyers can help. With over 40 years of experience, Our Miami based lawyers have helped individuals in nearly every area of entertainment law in Miami, including sports, music, film, television, modeling, literature, and more. We understand the unique challenges you face as a creative, and we’re prepared to protect your interests.

As an artist in Miami, you must navigate the intricacies of copyright law, trademarks, contractual agreements, and much more. It is critical you choose a qualified Miami entertainment lawyer with expertise in the nuances of the entertainment world. ChaseLawyers has built a stellar reputation among our clientele for honest, professional representation that produces effective results. We have extensive experience in the unique legal elements you must navigate as an artist, and our attorneys can provide you with indispensable career advice and expertise over the course of your entertainment career.

When you work with ChaseLawyers, you are more than just a client. We care about your well-being and can provide essential advice on the issues you face in the Miami market, such as intellectual property issues, negotiating service agreements, publicity rights, and much more. We also have an extensive network of resources available for our clients to connect with, and those connections can enrich your career in countless ways. Our team understands the complex world of entertainment law and will take care of your legal needs so you can focus on doing what you do best—sharing your talent with the world!

When you’re ready to take the next step in your career, our Miami entertainment lawyers are ready to help you. We are passionate about helping creatives with all of their legal needs, and you won’t find a team more dedicated to your success in all of Miami. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!