“Outer Banks” Creators and Netflix Face a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit from North Carolina Author
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Netflix, as well as creators Josh Pate, Jonas Pate and Shannon Burke of the popular teen adventure show Outer Banks, are facing a copyright infringement lawsuit courtesy of author Kevin Wooten.
Wooten’s young adult treasure-hunt novel is said to have several striking similarities with the show.
In 2016, English and writing teacher Kevin Wooten published Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure, a young adult novel which he claims inspired the setting, characters, and plot of the popular Netflix show. Not only do both stories take place in the outer banks of North Carolina, but antagonists of the story are allegedly nearly identical, “...a rich benefactor and a corrupt member of law enforcement.” Even the main characters seem to have more than a little in common with the upbringing and academic goals of some of the treasure-hunting teenagers in Wooten’s novel.
Wooten believes the creators of the show likely came across his novel in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Seeing as the creators of the show have credited Wilmington, North Carolina—a place where Wooten sold and promoted his books—as a primary inspiration for the show, it’s possible that one or more of the creators came across his novel there. The creators also reportedly told the Wilmington Star-News newspaper that “third-party adventure novels” greatly inspired the show. With these facts in mind, the allegations in this lawsuit seem a little more plausible. In fact, one of the Pate brothers is said to live in Wilmington.
However, copyright infringement lawsuits are notoriously difficult to prove. It is not illegal for two creators to have similar ideas, and with the wealth of creative content out there, this situation is bound to occur. To prove that copyright infringement has in fact occurred, Wooten will have to prove that the specific details cited in the official claim are virtually identical to those in the show. Coincidence will need to be proven very unlikely in this scenario.
Wooten is seeking his name on the credits in addition to other damages.
To settle the matter, Wooten is seeking a jury trial to assess the issue and compare the two stories. If successful, Wooten wants his name in the show’s credits for viewers to see, in addition to royalties for the show and any statutory and punitive damages which the court decides to compensate him for the infringement. Wooten’s lawyers issued a statement maintaining that Wooten himself is a fan of the show and looking forward to season two, but as a teacher himself, he understands the importance of protecting original works and will do so by asserting his copyright in hopes to reach an “amicable resolution” with Netflix and the Outer Banks creators.