'Stranger Things' Is at the Centre of a Plagiarism Lawsuit — Again
The Duffer Brothers are being accused of stealing ideas from an unpublished screenplay called 'Totem'
Published Jul 17, 2020Once again, Netflix and the creators of Stranger Things are being sued for copyright infringement. This time, the lawsuit comes from a company accusing Matt and Ross Duffer of lifting the idea for the hit show from an unpublished screenplay for something called Totem.
The lawsuit was filed by Irish Rover Entertainment against Netflix and the Duffer Brothers in California federal court on Wednesday (July 15), TheWrap reports. According to the suit, Stranger Things is accused of ripping off the screenplay for Totem, which was written by Jeffrey Kennedy. This includes the "plot, sequence, characters, theme, dialogue, mood, and setting, as well as copyrighted concept art."
The suit alleges that Stranger Things and Totem are connected via a man named Aaron Sims. After Sims was hired to work closely alongside Kennedy on Totem, he was later hired to create concept art for the first two seasons of Stranger Things.
According to Kennedy, the idea for his project stemmed from the death of his childhood friend Clint Osthimer, who suffered from epilepsy.
The suit reads: "During their childhood together in rural Indiana, Osthimer and Kennedy dealt with the constant threat of Osthimer's 'personal demon,' epilepsy, which created 'lightning showers' in his brain. These lightning showers or seizures would send him to an alternate supernatural plane where the demon resided."
As TheWrap reports, the lawsuit goes on to draw several comparisons between the two projects. This includes a comparison of a Totem character called Kimimela or "Kimi" and Stranger Things Eleven or "El," who both happen to have supernatural powers and open portals to another dimension.
Irish Rover Entertainment is seeking unspecified damages in its copyright infringement lawsuit.
In a statement to TheWrap, a rep for Netflix said the following:
Mr. Kennedy has been peddling these far-fetched conspiracy theories for years, even though Netflix has repeatedly explained to him that the Duffer Brothers had never heard of him or his unpublished script until he began threatening to sue them. After we refused to give in to his demands for a payoff, he filed this baseless lawsuit. There is no shortage of people who would like to claim credit for creating Stranger Things. But the truth is the show was independently conceived by the Duffer Brothers, and is the result of their creativity and hard work.
As previously reported, the Duffer Brothers were also sued for plagiarism back in 2018 by Charles Kessler, who accused them of stealing his ideas to create Stranger Things. This lawsuit was eventually dropped just one day before the case was set to go to trial.
Stranger Things will return with Season 4, though the show has currently halted production due to COVID-19.