Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stealing A Show About Giving Is Ironic

Each and everyday all over the world people see a film on the big screen or watch a reality show on television, or hear a hit song on the radio and say to themselves, "hey I wrote that/had that idea/told someone that idea," and now someone has cashed in on it. Of course the vast majority of the time the people are out of their minds or their idea really has no similarities except in their minds, but that doesn't stop people from suing.

Now and then though there is some merit to a case. The Recipe Stealer aka Jessica Seinfeld comes to mind. The problem is that when you send something in to a show or company or songwriter or whatever and they don't ask for anything from you, for the most part you are going to be screwed and there is not much you can do about it. You cannot copyright an idea, just the literary expression of the idea.

Now, that being said, it still is kind of nice to see the big people squirm, especially when you think they have taken an idea.

And would you believe Oprah could steal? Me either, but Darlene Tracy is suing Oprah Winfrey for stealing the idea for the show "Oprah's Big Give."

Ms. Tracy who has four children, first pitched the idea back to Oprah's people in 2005. According to her, she hatched the concept for a reality show called "The Philanthropist," in which contestants are challenged to help the needy.

Tracy claims she sent her pitch to Ellen Rakieten, executive producer of Winfrey's talk show, and that Rakieten and another producer, Jennifer Thornton, wrote back to ask for more details.

Tracy contends she shipped off a fine-tuned business proposal on March 1, 2005. Four months later, Thornton allegedly told Tracy that Oprah's company, Harpo Productions was going to pass.

Tracy's first suit was dismissed for technical reasons. She had tried to sue Harpo and Oprah without an attorney and they cleaned her clock. Now however, she has an attorney and so they are appealing that dismissal.

Normally I would say that Harpo should always win this case. BUT, if the producers wrote back and asked for more information as Tracy alleges, then Oprah should just get out her checkbook, and give to Tracy and get this over with.

So far, according to reports, Oprah can't find a book deal about the Big Give because publishers don't want to be named in the suit. Just another reason to open the checkbook. A friend of Tracy's had this to say about the whole thing.

"Oprah's side has conceded that they didn't have a philanthropy show in development until they got Darlene's pitch. Stealing a show about altruism is more than a little ironic." If you want to read more about the suit click here.


Judi said...

Along with a licensing deal, conceptual credit, and a few other things I can think of. In the same vein, but different - Note to others: Register the work with the WGA, and NEVER send any idea to Fox. EVER.

WTF said...

Oprah is getting more and more shady.


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