So how much does Anthony Lewis, the protagonist of Timothy Levi’s novel “Unity Incorporated: The Mastermind,” really resemble Lucious Lyon from the blockbuster TV series “Empire”?
Well, for one thing, they resemble each other a lot more than Lewis resembles a gangster character from a film. That is the crux of Levi’s latest argument, made Monday, in his ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit against “Empire” creator Lee Daniels and others.
In response to a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Levi filed a document detailing at least 30 character traits shared by Lewis and Lyon. What’s more—in an effort to apparently to underscore those similarities—Lyon argued that his protagonist resembles Lyon far more than it does a third “character from another film with the same general storyline” —one from the film “American Gangster.”
“In ‘American Gangster’, played by Denzel Washington,” Levi wrote, “he depicted an African American gangster, who distributed heroin, and invested the money in to various businesses. However, the similarities in American Gangster ceased there.”
By contrast, Levi outlined numerous plot similarities between his novel and “Empire,” both of which focus on African-American men with a history of drug dealing and murder who rise to become major players in the music industry.
In March, Levi sued Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, Daniels and other “Empire” creators in federal court in Virginia. He claimed he showed a copy of his novel to a lawyer who passed it onto Daniels, who later based “Empire” along similar plotlines. He’s seeking $1.5 billion in damages and representing himself in the case.
Twentieth Century Fox, while acknowledging in legal documents that the “Empire” protagonist “rose from a life of drug dealing to ownership of a record company and that the Lyon character murdered someone with whom he had a long history,” denied that the series is “in any way substantially similar to protectable elements” of Levi’s novel.
Twentieth Century Fox and Daniels prevailed against another copyright infringement claim in March. In that case, plaintiff Jon Astor-White claimed “Empire” infringed on a treatment he wrote titled “King Solomon.”
As for Levi, the court will have to decide if it’s swayed by the argument that his character and Lyon are a lot more alike than his character and Washington’s.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)