Did the BBC steal the plot for its hit series “Orphan Black?” That is what Stephen Hendricks asserts as he has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit of $5 million in California Federal court against BBC and the series producer Temple Street Productions.
Hendricks claims that he wrote a screenplay called “Double Double” in the late 1990’s. It was registered with the WGA as well as the Copyright Office. Then in 2004 he called Temple Street and was told to email a summary where it was finally sent to co-president David Fortier along with the actual full screenplay. A couple of weeks later, he was told by email that Temple Street was going to “pass.”
However, on March 4, 2013, Hendricks says he watched “Orphan Black” and alleges that the show contains “the same, unusual core copyrightable expression as the Screenplay; i.e. the clandestine development of clones and the resulting journey of the protagonist to discover her origins.”
And yes, Fortier, the man who supposedly passed on the screenplay in 2004, is an executive producer on the show.
BBC credits the shows creation to Graeme Manson and John Fawcett. Fortier says the two creators sent him “sort of a spec script” and that the show was developed over the course of four years.
“The similarities between the Series and the Screenplay are so substantial that it is a virtual statistical impossibility that the former could have been created independently from the latter,” says the lawsuit.
According to the complaint the major similarities include “both protagonists are young (early 20s), attractive women who want the same thing: to understand who they are and where they come from”; “The protagonist’s birth certificate is a key clue that makes her suspicious about her origin”; “The recurring theme of clones reproducing is also present in both.”
For the full complaint read here.