Judge throws out ‘Servant’ copyright lawsuit against Apple and M. Night Shyamalan

U.S. Federal Judge John F. Walter on Thursday threw out a copyright lawsuit brought against Apple TV+ series “Servant” executive producer M. Night Shyamalan and Apple, which had accused him of stealing elements from a 2013 independent film, “The Truth About Emanuel.”

Walter ruled that “Servant” is not similar enough to the film, “The Truth About Emanuel,” to merit a lawsuit.

Director and executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with the cast of “Servant” at the global premiere at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York last October. [Left to right: Toby Kebbell, Lauren Ambrose, M. Night Shyamalan, Nell Tiger Free and Rupert Grint]
Director and executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with the cast of “Servant” at the global premiere at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York last October. [Left to right: Toby Kebbell, Lauren Ambrose, M. Night Shyamalan, Nell Tiger Free and Rupert Grint]

Here are the trailers for both:

Gene Maddaus for Variety:

“In sum, the alleged similarities between the works pale in comparison to the differences in the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters, and sequence of events, and the Court concludes that the works at issue are not substantially similar as a matter of law,” Walter wrote.

Francesca Gregorini, the writer and director of “The Truth About Emanuel,” filed the suit in January, accusing Shyamalan of lifting her story and “bastardizing” it through a male gaze.

Both works are about a grieving mother who cares for a doll as if it were a real child, and her relationship with a female baby-sitter.

But Walter ruled that sharing a premise is not a violation of copyright law. “Beyond this unprotectable shared premise, the works’ storylines diverge drastically and quickly,” the judge wrote.

MacDailyNews Take: As is obvious to anyone who’s seen both “The Truth About Emanuel” and “Servant.” Justice is served! And, now, for the appeal, that Gregorini has vowed.

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