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SOURCE: “Love Is” website screen grab on http://www.oprah.com/app/love-is.html
SOURCE: “Love Is” website screen grab on http://www.oprah.com/app/love-is.html

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You get a ...lawsuit! - Oprah Winfrey network shows sued

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network is being accused of stealing the idea for their show, “Love Is”.

Actress Amber Brenner has filed a federal lawsuit and cited Oprah’s OWN network, along with screenwriters and producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, as the defendants.

Brenner said she wrote a screenplay called “Luv & Perversity in the East Village”, which is about the female protagonist’s life in a day “where lovers, friends and her mentor collide at a party in the East Village.” The project, led by Brenner, tried to raise funding through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding site, but it received only US$7,736 of its US$500,000 goal by its deadline of November 2015.

The show Brenner is suing, “Love Is”, is set in the ‘90s and follows the story of a couple from seemingly opposite worlds. The story is recounted from the perspective of the couple's present-day selves. The series is supposedly inspired by the Akils' romantic relationship and explores the ups and downs of falling and staying in love.

Brenner claims she gave Salim a copy of her work in 2016. She received an email from Salim saying he enjoyed it. Salim and Mara then allegedly used Brenner’s idea and turned it into a show they pitched around town. It eventually ended up at OWN Network as “Love Is,” which Brenner claims is a rip-off of her work.

Brenner is suing Oprah Winfrey Network, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. She is demanding unspecified damages and an injunction against them from using her work for profit.

This is the second time Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network is accused of stealing a show idea after receiving a pitch for it. Winfrey was sued in April by Shannan Lynette Wynn and Pastor Lester Eugene Barrie, who allege that “Greenleaf” is a copy of their project “Justice & Glory.” According to the suit, Wynn and Barrie sent in a treatment of the project to Winfrey and were told it was rejected. But they discovered later that their work had surfaced on the network under a different name, “Greenleaf”.

Oprah Winfrey’s lawyers have called the “Greenleaf” lawsuit “frivolous”, but they have yet to comment on the one filed by Brenner.

Creators would want to PitchMark their work before going for a pitch or sending it to a decision maker in a company. This way if the worst happens it will not be a case of “he said, she said”. It will be easier to prove their case in court when it matters, as PitchMark would have timestamped the documents sent as part of the pitch.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

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