Apple Sued Over Tetris Movie by Gizmodo Editor, Who Seeks $4.8M-Plus

Dan Ackerman, editor in chief of tech news site Gizmodo, alleges Apple TV+ film “Tetris” illegally copied from his book on the popular video game, in a lawsuit he filed seeking at least $4.8 million in damages from Apple and others.

Ackerman’s “The Tetris Effect: The Game That Hypnotized the World,” published in 2016, is about the game’s origins in the former Soviet Union and the fight for its global licensing rights. The lawsuit touted the book as a “literary masterpiece” and described it as “in the style of Cold War spy thriller.”

According to the lawsuit, Ackerman sent a pre-publication copy of the book to the Tetris Co. in 2016 but that the company refused to engage in a deal with him for any projects related to the book — and sent him a “strongly worded cease-and-desist letter.”

In the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Ackerman asked the court for total monetary damages of at least 6% of the film’s estimated $80 million production budget, which works out to $4.8 million. Alternatively, the suit said, Ackerman is entitled to recover from “statutory damages up to $150,000.00 per copyright infringed” from the defendants for “willful copyright infringement” along with attorney’s fees and costs. The lawsuit accuses Apple and the other defendants of copyright infringement, and alleges unfair competition by screenwriter Noah Pink, Tetris Co. and Tetris CEO Maya Rogers.

Reps for Apple, Tetris Co. and Pink did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The lawsuit was first reported by Reuters.

“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,” Ackerman’s lawsuit said.

According to the suit, “After having reviewed the entire book that Mr. Ackerman wrote, Ms. Rogers then used Mr. Ackerman’s work, for which Defendant Pink developed a screenplay, the contents of which was taken from the book and deceptively made into a film project without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, which included the lack of any optioning or licensing rights.”

“Tetris” premiered globally on Apple TV+ on March 31, 2023. According to Apple, the film is “based on the true story of American video game salesman Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) and his discovery of Tetrits in 1988. When he sets out to bring the game to the world, he enters a dangerous web of lies and corruption behind the Iron Curtain.”

The movie stars Egerton, Nikita Efremov, Sofia Lebedeva and Anthony Boyle and was directed by Jon S. Baird. “Tetris” was produced by Matthew Vaughn’s Marv Films, with Leonard Blavatnik’s AI Film, Gregor Cameron via his banner Unigram, and Gillian Berrie.

Pictured above: Nikita Efremov (l.) and Taron Egerton in “Tetris”

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