Intellectual Property

Production Company Suing Elizabeth Banks Over Walk of Shame, Say She Stole Their Idea


a pay phone!
"Walk of Shame"

Liberal intellectual property laws lead to all kinds of absurd claims about the "theft" of ideas. compiled a list of some of the most ridiculous ones, like Spike Lee's attempts to own "Spike," Games Workshop's attempt to corner "space marine," and David Letterman's NBC's attempt to corner the market on numbered lists. These are all examples of trademark claims, but the idea that an idea can be owned by someone makes for some interesting infringement claims.

One production company, Shame on You Productions, is now suing actress Elizabeth Banks, alleging she and her production company cribbed their idea for a movie about a "walk of shame."  The Hollywood Reporter reports:

The suit reads: "The plot in both works [the film Walk of Shame and a film pitched by the plaintiff] follows a pretty blonde but prudent woman (a 'good girl') in her thirties living in a big city who goes through a break up with her boyfriend, commiserates with her best girlfriends (one of whom is sexual and foulmouthed), gets drunk, spends a 'one-nighter' with a younger man she just met who works as a busboy/bartender, wakes up the next morning at his place, and puts on her inappropriate outfit from the night before."

The idea's hardly one in a million but, as The Hollywood Reporter explains, the production company's claim of infringement is strengthened if their related allegation that Banks and her husband actually met with them to talk about their idea for a "walk of shame" movie because of a concept called the "inverse ratio rule," which means that "a high degree of access to the plaintiff's work may allow the plaintiff to prevail on a copyright claim with a lesser degree of similarity." If the alleged meeting did happen, it could also mean the production company could have reasonably expected payment if their pitched idea was used. These kinds of legal wrangling are part of the reason no one really accepts unsolicited manuscripts (also because they largely suck?), and contribute to the pattern by some media companies to sit on their intellectual property without expending the effort to create new works, the opposite of the intent of copyright laws, justified in the Constitution as a means to promote the progress of the arts.

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  1. Is there anything more absurd than the claim that their is originality in Hollywood these days to be stolen?

    Everything is derivative.

    1. Robocop III Robocop remake agrees

    2. Divergent is derivative.

    3. They are remaking Private Benjamin for chrissakes.…

      Originality? Hollywood?


      1. Private Benjamin? No other movie came to mind?

        1. It’s just that why the fuck would they remake what was a pretty stupid movie to being with?

          1. Yes, I’m totes agreeing with you.

            Tha FUCK? PRIVATE BENJAMIN??

            1. I guess no one had any good ideas on how to remake Howard the Duck.

              1. Or Dune.

                1. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A DUNE MOVIE!!!!!

                  *reaches for crysknife*

            2. I only took Goldie Hawn seriously when she danced on laugh-in.

        2. Oooh, how about this: we remake ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ only we make the Navy pilot-in-training a woman and the local love interest a dude!

          We’ll even toss in gay and transgender issues with the best friend to make it topical and stuff.

          1. Wait, the Private Benjamin remake stars a fat chick when the original starred Goldie Hawn? At least have a sense of humor and cast Kate Hudson in it for fuck’s sake. And a sense of aesthetics.

            1. They haven’t cast the Hawn character yet, they wanted Wilson to be a sidekick character because, I dunno, Melissa McCarthy was busy?

              Who knows.

            2. Does the Army today have zero fitness requirements or is that part of the disbelief we are supposed to suspend?

              1. Look, man, John Candy got into basic in Stripes. Are you willing to say the same about that? Huh?!?

                1. Good point. I could never say anything ill of the late John Candy.

                  Why do the best ones die so early?

                  1. Because they’re often grossly overweight?

                2. Yes, but he intended to transform himself into a lean, mean killing machine.

      2. It should have been remade as porn.

        1. Pr0n for John?

  2. “Hey, they stole my idea about a bunch of underdog misfits whom a coach shapes into a winning team and they win the Big Game!”

    1. “Remember the Friday Night Varsity Durham of Their Own”?

  3. “And they totally ripped off my script about a by-the-books cop who partners with a plays-by-his-own-rules cop, and the two of them struggle to solve a crime even though the Chief says they’re off the case!”

    1. “You too? Why those bastards stole my idea about a gawky, socially awkward young man in high school having a hilarious series of misadventures as he tries to woo the girl of his dreams!”

    2. Hey, stop making fun of True Detective.

      1. Serious Man’s script was autobiographical. The girl he’s trying to woo lives on the other side of the country. He encounters adventures and heartbreak as he attempts to find his way to her.

        1. And then I reach her only to find out that she is secretly a…Labrador retriever!

          1. Fortunately, he’s into hot man/puppy love.


          2. Um…okay, how about this: Adam Sandler is, like, in love with some girl. But it turns out that the girl is actually a golden retriever or something.

            1. In a freak accident the lovely girl-about-town switches bodies with her loyal pooch. Hilarity ensues as *Sandler’s character deals with an overly amorous pooch and a girlfriend off her leash!!

              *Sandler is obvious past his prime and too old for this role.

            2. I need some time alone with the robot. Everyone out.

              1. Not cool! Totally lame!

    3. Related: Ramirez never woulda done that!

      Crap – no “Ramirez” clip from “Key and Peele” on the Youtubes….

      *kicks stone….walks away*

  4. the idea that an idea can be owned by someone makes for some interesting infringement claims.

    The usual take is that an idea cannot be copyrighted, only a specific expression of any idea. Which kind of makes a difference.

    The hard work comes when you accept that moving a single comma in War and Peace doesn’t mean you haven’t violated copyright.

  5. “And I never saw a dime for that story I pitched about a cynical woman who thought she’d never find love, but meets this great guy, and start to hit it off, but then they have some sort of misunderstanding and break up, only to resolve the misunderstanding at the last moment and realize they’re perfect for each other!”

  6. Her movie The Uninvited might be considered a ripoff of…..

    Well I won’t spoil it, but if you haven’t seen The Uninvited, it’s actually not bad.

  7. “And don’t even start about how they stole my idea about a monster stalking a bunch of scantily-clad women…”

    1. Your idea? That’s my biography damnit!

  8. David Letterman’s attempt to corner the market on numbered lists

    Ed, reread that Cracked entry. You have this exactly backwards; NBC tried to stop Letterman from using numbered lists when he moved to CBS.

    1. No, no! That was a MOVIE about a huge network conglomerate that fires the good guy, who goes to work for the competition, and his old network tries to stop him, but he perseveres….

      Wait. Has anyone done that one yet?

      1. What a coincidence – my production company just independently came up with the same idea!

        1. BLAST!

          1. I have the backdated documents to prove it!

      2. How about this: a lazy, overweight Jewish stoner that treats women like shit manages to hook up with an insanely hot woman. He then has outrageous misadventures with his equally annoying buddies while still building a relationship with said hot woman that would be out of his league in real life

        1. Starring Adam Sandler?

  9. Peter Suderman was all over this:…..ingle.html

  10. At least a patent has to be “novel”; that plot was worn out years ago.

  11. Given that I live in a college town, I see quite a few walks of shame. In both genders.

    The best/worse one was when I was walking to work a few years ago. This poor dear stumbles out of an apartment, still dressed for going out, lipstick smeared and raccoon-eyed, dressed but carrying her shoes and bra. She makes it off the porch, gets one shoe on without falling over, but falls over while getting the other one on. As soon as she stands back up, she vomits and then sits down on the lawn. I made the split second decision that pretending I didn’t see any of it was the kindest option available to me. It was a Tuesday morning.

    1. That must be a true story. If it was one of your fictions, there would be more tentacles.

    2. Suge, you are the master of the punchline:

      It was a Tuesday morning.

      Seriously, that changes the whole story. Well done.

    3. When I lived on the Upper East Side there were a few characters around that you’d see (one guy made it on to Howard Stern’s Wack Pack). One was a stocky woman dressed in fishnet stockings and an evening dress. Every week or so (not like clockwork), she would be walking up York or East End Avenue with her stockings ripped, hair awry, dress stained and mussed, makeup smeared as you describe above, and one of her high heels broken, giving her a limping gait. It was so similar every time that I speculated that it might be some weird fetish. But it was the prototypical walk of shame.

  12. Everyone in Hollywood is looking for the same thing: A brand new concept with a proven track record.

    1. +1 Sam Goldwyn

      (not literally – he actually didn’t say all of the things he said)

  13. Liberal intellectual property laws lead to all kinds of absurd claims about the “theft” of ideas.

    No shit, Sherlock.

  14. “Walk of shame”, really?

    Why not “walk of secret contentment”?
    Or perhaps “walk of morning bliss”?

  15. “spends a ‘one-nighter’ with a younger man she just met who works as a busboy/bartender, wakes up the next morning at his place, and puts on her inappropriate outfit from the night before.”

    That yellow dress is inappropriate for fishing for a one night stand?

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