‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Porn Knockoff Sparks a Lawsuit

Universal and Fifty Shades Limited claim that XXX version of E L James' books cross the lines of homage and go straight into ripoff

Apparently, imitation isn't always the sincerest form of flattery. At least, not as far as the recently released porn video "Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation" is concerned.

Fifty Shades Limited, which owns the copyright to E L James' "Fifty Shades" book trilogy, and Universal City Studios, which is producing a film adaptation of the trilogy, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Central California on Tuesday over the porn knockoff, claiming that it follows James' books way too closely.

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The suit, filed against Smash Pictures, Luv Moves, and the film's director, James Lane (who goes by the nom de porn Jim Powers), claims copyright infringement, false designation of origin, false advertising, trademark dilution and common law unfair competition, among other alleged offenses.

According to the complaint, "Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation" — the first in a projected trilogy that Smash Pictures is planning — is virtually a beat-for-beat copy of James' books, from the dialog to the storylines and even down to the main character's names, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.

"Beginning with the First XXX Adaptation's opening scene and continuing throughout the next two and a half hours of the film, Smash Pictures copies without reservation from the unique expressive elements of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, progressing through the events of 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and into the second book, 'Fifty Shades Darker,'" the suit reads. "The First XXX Adaptation is not a parody, and it does not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals. It is a rip-off, plain and simple."

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Universal and Fifty Shades Limited also point out that the packaging for the adaptation includes elements from those of the books, such as the necktie, mask and handcuffs pictured on the books' covers.

Perhaps even worse, the complaint says, the first "Fifty Shades" porn adaptation is being packaged as part of Fifty Shades of Pleasure: Play Kit & Movie, which includes "a DVD copy of the First XXX Adaptation and various adult 20 novelty items used in the Fifty Shades Trilogy."

To back up its argument that the "Fifty Shades" porn was intended to rip off the original, the suit cites an LA Weekly interview with Smash Pictures vice president Stuart Wall, who told the paper that the adaptation "will stay very true to the book and its S&M-themed romance" and that "the entire cast is reading the books as we speak, and director Jim Powers is writing the script to be as close to the series as he can get."

The suit is asking for an injunction blocking the defendants from publishing, selling, or advertising the allegedly infringing material, and from using the Fifty Shades trademarks to advertise or sell any goods or services.

The plaintiffs also ask that Smash Pictures and the other defendants deliver all all existing copies of the infringing works.

Universal and Fifty Shades Limited also want all of the profits from the "Fifty Shades" adaptation, plus suit costs, attorney's fees and interest.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.