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Stranger Things plagiarism lawsuit goes to court

News   •   Apr 18, 2019 14:46 +08

The Duffer Brothers

The creators of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things are going to court over a lawsuit that claims they based the show on someone else's idea after he pitched them at a party.

This was confirmed after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the Duffer brothers’ attempt to halt the plagiarism lawsuit filed against them from a man who claimed they stole his idea in 2014.

Filmmaker Charlie Kessler had filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross Duffer, for stealing his idea for the show. He claimed he pitched the idea for a series about government experiments to Matt and Ross Duffer at a party during the TriBeca Film Festival in 2014. The Duffers would go on to create the show Stranger Things at Netflix.

"Charlie Kessler asserts that he met the Duffers, then two young filmmakers whom Kessler never had heard of, and chatted with them for ten to fifteen minutes," wrote the lawyer for the Duffer brothers.

He also wrote: "That casual conversation — during which the Duffers supposedly said that they all 'should work together' and asked 'what [Kessler] was working on' — is the sole basis for the alleged implied contract at issue in this lawsuit and for Kessler's meritless theory that the Duffers used his ideas to create Stranger Things."

Kessler had claimed in his initial filing on 2 April 2018 that he later handed over “the script, ideas, story and film” to the brothers and that they allegedly used that material develop Stranger Things.

The filmmaker also said the Duffers used the working title The Montauk Project during the early stages of Stranger Things, which was originally set in the Long Island town of the title. They later changed the setting to Indiana.

When contacted by Engadget, Netflix said it has given the Stranger Things creators their full support. "The Duffer Brothers have our full support. This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court."

S. Michael Kernan, an attorney for Kessler, told Pitchfork: “Now that the judge has ruled and denied their motion for summary judgment, we can now dispense with the nonsense promoted by the Duffers and Netflix that this lawsuit has no merit, and that they had ‘proof’ that they created the show. If the lawsuit had no merit, or if they actually had the ‘proof’ they created it, then their summary judgment would have won. They lost. These motions are very hard to fight and winning this motion shows Mr. Kessler has a good case. We look forward to proving Mr. Kessler’s case at trial.”

Stranger Things is the most popular streaming series in the world, according to third-party metrics from Parrot Analytics. Nielsen’s research reveals that its second season averaged approximately four million viewers per episode.

The hit show is the subject of a lawsuit by a photographer who claims a photo of his was used without permission in the show. Sean R. Heavey complained that he discovered a portion of his photo being used in concept art seen in the behind-the-scenes special Beyond Stranger Things. Heavey registered the copyright for the photo with the United States Copyright Office in late 2010.

Update: Kessler had unexpectedly terminated his lawsuit days before the trial was to begin. He said he was convinced there was proof that the Dufflers had created the show independently.

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