Sep 1928 – When is a Story Stolen?

All right sue me! is the catchword with which members of the scenario department at Lasky Studios greet each other nowadays! Plagarism suits have become such an expense item on move budget books that many companies send back all orginial manuscripts unopened. After a picture is released the producers are flooded with letters typewritten on business stationery, scrawled with a pencil on cheap lined paper penned in violet ink and scented with Night of Love perfume, but one and all declaring “you’ve stolen my movie plot”.  Each case that is taken to court costs the studio about fifteen hundrend dollars in lawyers fees and wastes several weeks of valuable time, though complaining authors seldom win their cases. the damages asked vary.  A shoe clerk who sent in a story about young love and has afterward seen a picture of young love on the screen may deman five thousand dollars but he is usually willing to settle for a couple of hundred out of court.  Scenario editor Edward Montaigne has handled tons of scripts submitted by amateur writers, each of who claims to have a new idea.  He is a married man, everyone who meets him wants to tell a plot.  Sometimes he admits astonishing ideas are presented to him. For example, there is a spiritualist who is in constant communication with Rudolph Valentino. In the spirit world she writes Rudie has met Edith Cavell, who insists that he must make one more picture on earth. For a consideration, she will sell Valentino’s services to Universal Studio to write and direct a movie.

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