Oprah Winfrey is one of the most powerful and respected women in the entertainment world. In fact, to fans in New York and beyond, she seems to have a Midas touch, turning to gold anything to which she grants her blessing, including cars, diet products and charities. She has been a friend to those in the arts, including authors who profit from soaring sales when Oprah recommends their books. However, according to recent intellectual property litigation, not every artist feels Oprah is entirely benevolent.
When two artists submitted an idea for a series for the Oprah Winfrey Network, they likely hoped Winfrey’s nod of approval would bring them success. However, a few years after they received a rejection from the network, they were shocked to see the OWN series “Greenleaf.” The writers, one of whom is a church pastor, say the network blatantly ripped off their idea.
According to the lawsuit filed by the two, OWN did not even attempt to alter the plaintiffs’ work, using plots, subplots, themes and character names exactly as the writers had presented them in their pitch. The plaintiffs feel Winfrey’s network has joined with other powerful Hollywood elites who take advantage of hard-working writers and other artists. They seek $150,000 for each of the many acts of copyright infringement they claim the network perpetrated against them.
Finding a foothold as a writer is a challenge. Most writers never get the big break that leads to success. However, when other entities infringe on the rights of a writer or artist, intellectual property litigation may be recommended. A New York attorney with experience in copyright law can provide valuable advice and guidance.
Source: thewrap.com, “Oprah Winfrey Sued by Pastor Over ‘Greenleaf’ TV Series“, Tim Kenneally, April 19, 2018