Tyler Perry, Lionsgate Win Dismissal of ‘Good Deeds’ Copyright Case

Judge finds insufficient similarity between book and movie

A federal judge has sided with Tyler Perry Studios and Lionsgate, dismissing a claim by author Terri Donald that the feature film “Good Deeds” infringed the copyright on her book.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III granted the motion for dismissal Wednesday in New York, noting that the similarity between the works — both feature a romance between a wealthy man and a woman who has experienced hardship —  was not sufficient to sustain a copyright infringement claim.

Donald had brought the suit last November in federal court in New York. She alleged that the movie, starring Perry and Thandie Newton, infringed her 2007 book “Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit,” which concerns a romantic relationship between an African-American woman who has risen above a tortured past and a wealthy African-American businessman.

In the film, Perry portrayed Wesley Deeds as the unhappy CEO of his late father’s computer software company. His life is transformed when he befriends a down-on-her-luck young mother (played by Newton) and her daughter.

Donald claimed “Good Deeds” copied the characters, plot, theme and numerous scenes of her book. She sought $225,000 in initial damages and an injunction requiring the company to add a credit for her book in the opening and closing credits.

The drama grossed $35 million at the box office after its February 2012 release.

Perry and Lionsgate are represented by Tom Ferber and Stephanie Kline of Pryor Cashman.

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