Netflix Beats Colombian Journalist’s Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Over ‘Narcos’

Virginia Vallejo claimed Netflix stole from her memoir “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”

Last Updated: November 8, 2019 @ 4:06 PM

A court has sided with Netflix in a “Narcos” copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Virginia Vallejo, a Colombian journalist and former girlfriend of drug lord Pablo Escobar.

The suit, filed in Florida district court in Jan. 2018, accused the producers and distributors of the show of two counts of copyright infringement, saying the company borrowed from Vallejo’s 2006 memoir to inform two specific scenes, called “Caress of a Revolver” and “That Palace in Flames.”

Florida district court judge Rodney Smith granted Netflix’s motion for summary judgment and denied Vallejo’s Friday.

The memoir, “Amando a Pablo, Odiando a Escobar” (which translates to “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”), details Vallejo’s relationship with Escobar and her cooperation with Colombian and U.S. authorities in prosecuting an ex-Colombian senator as well as drug cartel bosses. In “Narcos,” Vallejo’s likeness is portrayed by actress Stephanie Stigman as a journalist character named Valeria Velez.

Netflix argued that there is no copyright protection for historical fact, and moved for summary judgment on both counts. Vallejo also moved for summary judgment, citing that the “average lay observer” would recognize the two scenes as having been copied from her copyright-protected work.

In the end, the judge ruled that though Vallejo’s copyrights are valid — and Netflix conceded to having had access to the memoir during the show’s creation — neither scene infringed on the copyrighted material, nor did any scene in “Narcos.”

“The only similarities between these two scenes are the blindfold, caressing with a gun, and Plaintiff/Velez is aroused. These facts are not protectable. The idea of a sex scene involving a gun is not protectable,” the filing reads in reference to the first scene, “Caress of a Revolver.” “Despite Plaintiff arguing that her description of this event is filled with her vivid description of the setting, the sounds, and her thoughts and feelings at the time, Plaintiff does not point to any specific original, non-factual portions of her Memoir that have been copied. There is no dialogue that has been copied, the settings are different, the feel of the scenes are different, and how the scenes play out are different.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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