Man Sued for Hijacking 'World Trade Center' Script

Crime, Law and JusticeTrials and ArbitrationOliver StoneCrimePatents, Copyrights and TrademarksEntertainmentMovie Industry

Although all Americans shared the grief over the 9/11 terrorists attacks, Paramount Pictures doesn't necessarily want to share its screenplay about the tragedy with a D.C.-area filmmaker.

The studio has sued Chris Moukarbel for copyright infringement, claiming that the man used a "bootleg script" of Oliver Stone's upcoming "World Trade Center" to make his own abbreviated version of the attacks.

The June 16 lawsuit, which can be found on TheSmokingGun.com, alleges that Moukarbel, 28, got his mitts on the official screenplay about a couple of real-life Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and William Jimeno (played by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena in Stone's film), to make his 12-minute film, which he released on the Internet. Although the video has been removed "at the request of Paramount Pictures," an artistic criticism on the Filmmakermagazine.com blog is still available and describes the filmmaker's efforts.

Chris Moukarbel has gone the mash-up editors one better by pre-empting Oliver Stone's forthcoming 'World Trade Center' with an [sic] twelve-minute web-distributed art project based on a bootlegged copy of Stone's screenplay," reads the introductory description.

"'World Trade Center' is an adaptation of an extract of the screenplay of Oliver Stone's forthcoming film," reads the critique. "The video was made entirely in the artist's studio using student actors and then released on the Internet, intentionally pre-empting Stone's film release in August 2006. It describes the relationship between two firemen caught in an inescapable situation, stuck in the rubble of the World Trade Center. The dialogue between them reveals their admiration and professional respect for one another, and is completely out of synch with their present circumstances. Moukarbel offers a glimpse into human behaviour at a time when death is imminent, making it seem perversely futile."

This particular scene, in which McLoughlin and Jimeno are trapped in an elevator vestibule on the concourse between Towers One and Two, is in fact almost verbatim to a scene in Stone's "World Trade Center." The lawsuit provides a side-by-side comparison of a transcript of Moukarbel's film and the studio's screenplay.

The scene describes how McLoughlin encourages Jimeno, whose legs are trapped in the rubble, to find some tool to dig himself out. After searching, Jimeno announces, "I got my cuffs" and proceeds to chip away at the debris. Other points, such as McLoughlin's attempt to reach rescue workers by radio and a conversation about the other officers who entered the Towers, also mirror the original script.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction barring Moukarbel from distributing his film.

"World Trade Center," which also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Maria Bello, opens nationwide on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

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