Facts vs. Expression: James Franco Sued for Violating Film Rights to Charles Bukowski Novel.
Can James Franco do a movie about Bukowski’s childhood, even if he doesn’t own the rights to Bukowski’s autobiographical coming of age novel Ham On Rye? More importantly, do the plaintiff’s claims against Franco have a chance of succeeding at all? “[I]t’s possible to do a biography without infringement, as facts can’t be copyrighted. But the arrangement of facts in a creative manner can be protected, and so [plaintiff] Humphris is coming to court with an interesting claim that he is essentially entitled to Bukowski’s expression of childhood and any imaginative flourishes therein.”
Franco has asserted the film is not an adaptation of the novel.
Related: Best practices for limiting legal risks when telling a true story.