Author Dan Ackerman is suing Apple and several other parties for $4.8 million in damages, claiming the new “Tetris” film plagiarized from his 2016 book The Tetris Effect: The Game That Hypnotized the World.
The film premiered at SXSW this year and had a theatrical and streaming release in March. It stars Taron Egerton in the role of Henk Rogers, an American video game salesman who discovered the Russian computer game in 1988 and made it his mission to popularize it. The movie, which also includes performances by Nikita Efremov, Sofia Lebedeva, and Anthony Boyle, was directed by Jon S. Baird.
Ackerman, who is also the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo, alleges that the film illegally copied from his book without fairly compensating him. The suit seeks damages from Apple, the Tetris Company, and from Noah Pink, who is the film’s screenwriter.
Ackerman claims the Tetris company had earlier sent him a “strongly worded cease-and-desist letter” and refused to negotiate any adaptation rights. He also alleges that the company threatened to sue him if he pursued film or television opportunities on his own.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday. In it, Ackerman claims that “The ‘Tetris’ film is substantially similar in almost all material respects including specific chapters and pages of said book that were simply adopted from the book to the film, without Plaintiff’s knowledge, authorization or consent.”
According to the complaint, the film “liberally borrowed numerous specific sections and events of the book” and was “similar in almost all material respects” to it. The suit further claims that material from his book was “deceptively made into a film project without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, which included the lack of any optioning or licensing rights.”
The lawsuit points out 22 instances in which the film allegedly lifted material from the book, including a “narrative invention” where a KGB agent serves as Henk Rogers’s guide in the former Soviet Union. One conversation in the film is said to have been lifted from Ackerman’s interview with the game’s creator, Alexey Pajitnov, Neither Tetris nor Apple have yet publicly commented on the lawsuit. A spokesperson for Tetris was quoted in Variety as saying: “They don’t believe it has any merit but are not prepared to say anything further at this point in time.”
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