VOL. 114 | NO. 62 | Thursday, March 30, 2000
Disney/Miramax sued for hacking
for alleged "hacking"
The Walt Disney Co. and its Miramax division have made a computer hacker movie that ``hacked'' the author's book without paying or giving credit to the writer, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Bartko, Zankel, Tarrant & Miller, a law firm representing author Jonathan Littman.
Littman's suit alleges the companies production of the movie "Takedown," which premiered earlier this month in Paris, was based on segments of Littman's book, "The Fugitive Game.
``The Fugitive Game, published in 1996, is based on the celebrated capture of computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, who was billed at the time as the world's most notorious and dangerous cyberterrorist.
The complaint outlines a detailed comparison between Littman's book and the final shooting script for the movie, allegedly illustrating repeated and compelling similarities between the two.
According to the allegations, ``Takedown and ``The Fugitive Game both open with a scene in a strip club frequented by a government informer who reveals to Mitnick information about SAS a secret Pacific Bell phone-tapping system that Mitnick subsequently breaks into and uses.
Littman's lawsuit also contends various themes and interpretations from his book that are absent from the book appear in the movie, including the government informer and entrapment of Mitnick, and the pressure on the government to capture Mitnick created by exaggerated media hype.
Littman seeks to prevent Disney, Miramax and the other defendants from continuing to violate his copyrights by distributing the movie and to recover his damages and the wrongful profits that defendants obtained from the alleged theft of his work. Littman's lawyers say the Disney-Miramax plagiarism tainted Littman's work by patching it into their motion picture.
Because of this, Littman also is asking for damages he claims resulted from opportunities he lost, including the possibility for involvement with other movie projects based on ``The Fugitive Game.