Perry Didn't Copy 'Mad Black Woman'

By MICHAEL GRACZYK
|  Monday, Aug 23, 2010  |  Updated 7:45 PM CDT
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Perry Didn't Copy 'Mad Black Woman'

Tyler Perry / Madea

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A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a jury's verdict that actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry didn't steal material for his financially successful 2005 movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."

Two years ago, a federal court jury in Marshall in east Texas found actress and writer Donna West failed to support her copyright infringement lawsuit claim.

West appealed the verdict.

"We have reviewed the briefs and applicable law, have consulted applicable portions of the record, and have heard oral argument," the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. "There is no reversible error."

West wrote the play "Fantasy of a Black Woman," which was performed three times in 1991 in Dallas. She argued Perry could have gained access to the script in 1998 when he presented his plays at the Dallas Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

Attorneys for West contended Perry at the time was a newcomer who couldn't have produced such a script.

They did not immediately respond to messages left Monday by The Associated Press.

Perry testified at trial that his screenplay was an original work.

The film cost $5 million to make and grossed more than $50 million. It topped the nation's box offices during its debut weekend in February 2005.

West was seeking damages and profits from the movie in her suit against the actor's company, Tyler Perry Inc., because it sells the movie online and by mail, and Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc., which financed and distributed the film.

Perry had three roles in the movie, which also starred Steve Harris, Kimberly Elise and Shemar Moore. The movie focuses on a woman whose grandmother helps her after her husband dumps her for a younger woman.

The drama-comedy was based on a script by Perry from his play of the same name. He was featured cross-dressed as a gun-toting grandmother along with two other supporting roles.

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