Sophia Stewart won a large judgment in a copyright infringement suit over authorship of the film The Matrix.
See Example( s )
Collected via internet, 2005
The Matrix was an immediate box office hit upon its release in March 1999, quickly grabbing the public’s imagination and its movie-going dollars. Together with its two sequels it has grossed in excess of $2.5 billion, making it one of the most lucrative film franchises in cinematic history.
Sophia Stewart, a native New Yorker who lives in Salt Lake City and works as a paralegal, generated controversy by claiming in a lawsuit brought against directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, producer Joel Silver, Warner Bros., and Twentieth Century Fox that The Matrix and Terminator film franchises were based on her ideas. According to Stewart, in 1986 she responded to an advertisement posted by the Wachowski brothers in a national magazine soliciting science fiction manuscripts to make into comic books by sending them “The Third Eye,” a short story she had written and copyrighted in 1981. She said she never heard back from them nor received her manuscript back, but when she saw The Matrix in 1999 she was struck by how closely it resembled her story. She filed suit against the makers of the film, seeking over $1 billion in damages. (This page provides links to a number of files and articles about her lawsuit.)
Stewart’s case was dismissed in June 2005 when she failed to show up for a preliminary hearing of her case. In a 53-page ruling, Judge Margaret Morrow of the Central District Court of California dismissed the suit, saying Stewart and her attorneys had not entered any evidence to bolster its key claims or demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the accused directors’ films. As of this writing, Stewart’s case is no longer before the courts. She has announced that she does not plan to let the matter drop, so possibly this case could someday be re-filed and heard, but for now it is over.
A less than accurate newspaper article about Stewart and her case (quoted in the Example box above) caused many to believe the woman claiming authorship had won her copyright infringement suit and was about to receive a multi-billion dollar settlement. That 28 October 2004 article, penned by a second-year communications student for the Salt Lake Community College Globe, erred in mistaking Stewart’s 4 October 2004 successful counter to a dismissal motion for her having prevailed in her suit. The article asserted Stewart “will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels” and would “soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood.” What Stewart had won was the right to proceed with her case, but nothing more.
The Globe subsequently posted the following correction:
In reference to the recent article entitled “Mother of the Matrix Victorious,” some information has been deemed misleading. Ms. Sophia Stewart has not yet won her case against Joel Silver, Time Warner and the Wachowski Bros. The decision on October 4th enabled Ms. Stewart to proceed with her case, as all attempts to have it dismissed were unsuccessful. Ms. Stewart’s case will proceed through the Central District Court of California.
The Globe Staff
A number of web-based news sites (such as Thaindian News and African Globe) have continued to create confusion over the case by republishing the Salt Lake Community College Globe‘s outdated and inaccurate article from 2004 which erroneously claimed that Sophia Stewart had won her case.