The Oscar winning actress denied in the strongest legal terms that she took key elements of a book on the Bosnian War for her 2011 film In The Land of Blood and Honey. “Defendants independently created the Motion Picture without any influence of Plaintiff’s Subject Work,” said Jolie, along with fellow defendants GK Films and distributor Film District, in a 13-page response (read it here) filed yesterday. “Defendants further deny that the protectible elements of the Motion Picture and the book entitled “The Soul Shattering” (“Subject Work”) are legally or substantially similar under controlling Ninth Circuit law,” the response also says. James J. Braddock sued Jolie and the others, on December 2, 2011 for copyright infringement. Filing his suit three weeks before the film came out in America on December 23, 2011, the author accused Jolie and the companies of copying key elements of his 2007 book for In The Land of Blood and Honey.
Jolie, who both wrote and directed the film, has said she got the idea for the movie from her travels to the region as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and what she learned about the Bosnian War of the 1990s. This week, Jolie, GK Films and FilmDistrict’s lawyers made sure to point out what they said are differences between the film and the book. “Defendants admit that in the Motion Picture the main female character at times was a servant in a structure occupied by members of the Serbian military, but deny that she was ‘subject to continuous rape by soldiers and officers in the camp’ as alleged by Plaintiff. Defendants deny that the protectible elements of the Motion Picture and the Subject Work are legally or substantially similar under controlling Ninth Circuit authority,” said this week’s answer to Braddock’s complaint. The writer claims in that original filing that he met with producer Eric Sarkic in Sarajevo in 2007 and the two discussed making The Soul Shattering into a movie. In 2010 Braddock, whose real name is Josip Knežević, says he discovered that Sarkic was a producer on Jolie’s movie, prompting the sequence of events that lead to the lawsuit. The case was transferred from Illinois, where it was first filed, to California in early July of this year. With the defendants’ response, and its requisite request for costs, lawyer’s fees and further relief from the court, the case now heads towards the discovery phase. A phase that could take months more. Harrison J. Dossick and Christine M. Neuharth of L.A.’s Reed Smith represent Jolie, GK Films and FilmDistrict. Braddock is represented by Dariush G. Adli and Rasheed McWilliams of downtown’s Adli Law Group PC.