Woman Claims that she Wrote the Script for Titanic and James Cameron Stole it
An individual who goes by the name Princess Samantha Kennedy has filed an action in the United States District Court, Southern District of California claiming that Paramount Pictures used her novel and scripts to create the 1997 motion picture Titanic. James Cameron received the writing credit for the movie.
The complaint is hand written, fifteen pages long, and generally difficult to decipher. Inexplicably, however, Princess Samantha seems quite normal. Here is a website cataloging some of her many accomplishments. And here is her Facebook page. Unfortunately for the princess, it is doubtful that she will be successful in her lawsuit unless she has some seriously good evidence to back up her extraordinary claims.
The princess alleges in the complaint that:
I also worked for paramount pictures. The defendant had in their procession my copyrighted material. My works are protected by copyrights. They have exploited me. Their actions are willful, willful. I will suffer the rest of my life from this. I request the court to order them to stop and to pay me money for the total amount they made on this picture.
Emphasis added. Titanic has grossed almost two billion worldwide although the princess requests an "amount exceeding $3 Billion Dollars."). She alleges that the use of the material has devastated her health and devastated her emotionally. Apparently the fact that the film -- which she alleges she wrote -- won eleven (11) Academy Awards, including the Best Picture does little to cheer her spirits. She further claims to have a mountain of evidence backing up her claim.
I recently saw the motion picture on television. I have just completed the studying of the works between my work and what the infringers stolen and without a shadow of a doubt I realize today they have taken my work. I have enough side by side comparisons to show infringement, enough to show a winning case. In my biographies over 500 pages I wrote also about the 1953 motion picture about Titanic, defendants took that and proceeded to copy my dialogue and the rest of my biographies, its expression, name of characters + people on a ship to create the motion picture
. . .
I have hundreds of pages of side by side comparisons that a school grader, a child, could easily read to see infringe, that I will present to the court. I have proof that Paramount Pictures had access to my work in writing from them. I have Jack, the artist, Rose, Mary Jane, the card game of the winning ticket, the painting, the car where they make love, the mother in law who hates the son in law and hundreds more, even Lucy.
The princess claims her scripts were written from 1990 - 1992 and that she owns all of the rights to the film. She goes on to say that she never authorized Paramount Pictures to make the film.
Besides the fact that the princess' complaint is hand written, there are a couple of legal issues that are likely to get this complaint immediately dismissed. First, she missed the three (3) year statute of limitations to bring a copyright claim. Under 17 USC § 507(b), civil actions for copyright infringement must be commenced three years after the claim accrued. In the Ninth Circuit -- where this complaint was filed -- a copyright claim "accrues" when a party knew or should have known about the infringement. See Polar Bear Productions, Inc. v. Timex Corp., 384 F.3d 700 (9th Cir. 2004). In the complaint, Princess Samantha claims to have just seen Titanic for the first time. She alleges she has not been to the movie theaters since 1995 and just happened to recently catch the film on television. (In the princesses defense-- I admit that I have never seen Titanic, so this story is possible.)
Second, it does not appear she has filed for a copyright registration for her novel and scripts for Titanic. In the Ninth Circuit you need to have at least filed a copyright registration prior to bringing a lawsuit in federal court. See Cosmetic Ideas, Inc. v. IAC, 606 F.3d 612 (9th Cir. 2010). There are two registrations for a Samantha Kennedy at the copyright office, but both appear to be for poetry. There is no indication in this complaint that the princess has filed a copyright registration for her novel and scripts.
It will be interesting to see what happens to this case if it is every served on Paramount Pictures. The princess has requested a jury trial on all issues triable to a jury.
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