Woman says 'Diary' was stolen from her story

December 3, 2008 6:48:29 AM PST
A woman testified in federal court Tuesday that a play she wrote based on her own life was taken by actor and playwright Tyler Perry and made into the blockbuster film "Diary of a Mad Black Woman." Donna West is suing Perry for copyright infringement in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and wants a jury to award her family all the profits made from the film, The Marshall News Messenger reports for its Wednesday editions.

"I can't put my play on because the stories are basically the same and nobody wants to see that again," she said.

Perry, of Atlanta, Ga., was in court Tuesday.

West testified she developed a script titled "Fantasy of a Black Woman" based primarily on her own experiences. With West in the starring role, the play was performed in July 1991 at the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters at the Dallas Convention Center.

In her opening remarks to the jury, Perry's attorney, Veronica Lewis, said her client is an "immensely talented" individual "who has no need whatsoever" to use the materials of others.

Lewis noted Perry had experienced considerable success before and after the film, "so why would he need to copy Ms. West's script?"

Testimony was expected to resume Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis of Tyler told jurors he anticipates the case will be completed by next Tuesday.

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