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Local suit involves action star Van Damme

25 May, 2005

An American history teacher and screenwriter is suing movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme and Artisan Entertainment in federal district court in Texarkana, Texas, over a movie script she says she wrote.

Sara J. Stratso is a resident of Pilot Point, Texas, in Denton County, which is part of the Eastern District of Texas' jurisdiction. According to the lawsuit filed earlier this month, Stratso is an independent screen writer and teacher at Texas Woman's University in Denton.

In her lawsuit, Stratso is seeking damages for loss of credit for writing the motion picture screenplay, loss of opportunity to sell and license and obtain a royalty and an amount representing the profits of the film.

She also targets vendors who have distributed the film including Blockbuster Entertainment, Musicland Group, Netflix, Amazon.com, NBC Universal and Yaletown Entertainment Corp.

Stratso crafted a script titled "Replicant" about a man-made android, which she called a "replicant," used to capture a serial killer.

"Stratso complied in all aspects with the U.S. copyright laws by registering her copyright with the Register of Copyrights from which she received a certificate ... dated May 14, 1996. Stratso's copyright was obtained prior to the commencement of the infringing acts ..." according to the lawsuit.

She made her copyright public in 1997 when she entered her script in the Lone Star Screenplay Competition in Texas, where it won an award.

"Interestingly, the judges commented that it would be a 'super vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme.' In 1997-1999, Stratso employed an agent named Bill Kerwin to 'shop' the script around California and potential buyers," according to the lawsuit.

She alleges that Artisan, Millennium Films Inc., and others including Van Damme had access to her copyrighted script and plagiarized or copied one or more of them without her permission.

A film by the same name was produced in 2001 starring Van Damme.

"The two works are sufficiently similar that copying is obvious and willful," according to the lawsuit.

She lists 43 key characteristics of the film that matched her screenplay.

Instead of giving Stratso credit for writing the script, the movie lists Lawrence D. Riggins as the scriptwriter and Les Weldon as having adapted the script to the movie.

Sourced from www.TexarkanaGazette.com

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