In January of this year, director Francesca Gregorini brought a copyright lawsuit against Apple, Apple TV+, and director M. Night Shyamalan for what she believed were similarities between one of her films and the Apple TV+ series Servant.
Gregorini’s film, The Truth About Emanuel does have similar story beats to the plot of Servant, including the relationship between a grieving mother and a new nanny that enters the home. Many elements also differed, but Gregorini believed that Servant was similar enough to her film that legal action needed to be taken. Here’s how it was described then:
If ‘Servant’ showcases anything, it is the gender arrogance and inequity still infecting Hollywood (and apparently Cupertino),” the suit alleges. “The result of this caricature of the male gaze is the utter bastardization of Ms. Gregorini’s work. It’s an apt metaphor for the real-life version of what could happen here: It takes only a few old guard Hollywood men, such as Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Basgallop, and their new Silicon Valley partner Apple TV+, to negate the considerable achievements and life experiences of the women behind ‘Emanuel,’ and to irredeemably tarnish their work.
Now, as reported by Variety on Thursday, a federal judge has thrown out the copyright lawsuit claim against Apple, Apple TV+, and M. Night Shyamalan. According to the judge, John F. Walter, The Truth About Emanuel and Servant are not similar enough for the lawsuit to continue on.
In sum, the alleged similarities between the works pale in comparison to the differences in the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters, and sequence of events, and the Court concludes that the works at issue are not substantially similar as a matter of law,” Walter wrote.
Judge John F. Walter confirmed that the premise between the film and the series is similar, but also said that the two plots “diverge drastically and quickly”.
I’m not going to include any of the plot developments that happen in either The Truth About Emanuel and Servant, but this is good news for Apple and Shyamalan. What’s more, the federal judge dismissed the suit with prejudice, which means Gregorini cannot refile against Apple or Shyamalan on this matter.