Angelina Jolie Fights Author’s Copyright Claims For Bosnian War Movie

By Joseph Mandour on September 6, 2012

movie-symbol Los Angeles — Actress Angelina Jolie struck back at an author alleging she ripped off his book about the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s for her film In The Land Of Blood And Honey, her first effort as a director, saying the two works had nothing to do with each other.

Jolie and her collaborators created the movie completely independently, without any influence from the book, she said in her answer to James J. Braddock’s complaint, which the author filed in Los Angeles federal court in December 2011, a few weeks before the movie was scheduled to be released.

“Defendants deny that they violated the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, or any other law at issue in this case, including United States copyright laws,” the answer says, “Defendants further deny that the protectible elements of the motion picture and the book entitled The Soul Shattering are legally or substantially similar under controlling Ninth Circuit law.”

Jolie and the co-defendant companies that worked on the movie and its release admitted in the answer that they did not receive licensing or permission from Braddock, but denied that they were legally required to do so.

Braddock is an author and journalist known for his reporting during the Bosnian war, which served as the basis for his book The Soul Shattering, published in Braddock’s home state of Croatia in 2007. His complaint describes the book as a factual account of the tragedies suffered by Bosnian and Herzegovinian women and children during the war.

“The defendants have infringed upon the protectable rights in the subject work, which are wholly owned by plaintiff,” the complaint says. “Defendants never secured licensing or permission from plaintiff, yet the motion picture shares similarities so substantial to the subject work that its production and distribution constitute copyright infringement.

After Braddock released the book, he traveled to Sarajevo to promote it and create awareness for Bosnian war victims’ organizations. On one of these occasions, he was approached by defendant Edin Sarkic, who was an executive movie producer in the Bosnian region with fellow defendant Scout Film, the complaint says.

Sarkic told Braddock that he had read the book and expressed sincere interest to meet on future occasions to discuss the book in further detail, Braddock claims. From March 2008 through November 2008, the pair met at least three times to discuss the book’s details, including plot and character development and the story’s cultural significance and historical accuracy.

Those conversations evolved into the possibility of creating a motion picture based on the book, which Sarkic would produce through Scout Film, the complaint says. After those meetings, Braddock and Sarkic allegedly communicated extensively over the telephone and through text messages in attempts to continue the conversation about potentially creating a movie out of the book.

In 2010 Braddock heard about Jolie’s movie, which was being filmed in the Bosnian region, and its striking similarity to his book, he says. He also learned at that time that Sarkic was an executive producer of the movie and that Scout Film was actively involved in production.

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