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The directors of "A Routine Stop" sued the famed Hollywood directors of "American Skin" for copyrigh

Legal Correspondent: K. Praveen Kumar

17th September 2021: Selton and Langston Shaw, brothers and independent filmmakers, and their production company recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against renowned Hollywood directors and producers Spike Lee and Nate Parker, as well as their three connected firms. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In their lawsuit, the directors claimed that Parker and Lee stole the concept for their upcoming film 'American Skin' from a well-known 2017 screenplay authored by the Shaw brothers and titled 'A Routine Stop.'

According to the lawsuit, both "American Skin" and the Shaw brothers' scripts addressed police violence against Black men and women, as well as the country's systematic complacency toward it. "Key concepts, characters, narratives, the logline, and other elements were lifted from the script 'A Routine Stop,'" Lee explained. When contacted, a representative for Lee declined to comment on the matter straight away. There are more troubling parallels between American Skin and the screenplay for A Routine Stop beside the concepts.

According to the lawsuit, "in both A Routine Stop and American Skin, the main character, with a group of his friends, kidnaps and puts on a "show trial" of the white police officer involved in the incident."

"In 2017, the Shaw brothers entered their script into the TV One Screenplay competition, which is co-sponsored by and organised by the American Black Film Festival." Even though the brothers' screenplay did not win the competition, it was distributed to a panel of industry judges. "American Skin" appeared at the Venice Film Festival two years later, "with plot lines, characters, and themes substantially similar" to "A Routine Stop," according to the complaint.

Selton brothers said that "We put our blood, sweat and tears into turning a tragic reality of society into a screenplay that would resonate with audiences, only to see someone else earn acclaim and profit from our work," said the Shaw brothers. "We filed this lawsuit to get back what was wrongfully taken from us.


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