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Filmmakers of ‘The Shape of Water’ sued for copyright infringement

The family of a Pulitzer-winning playwright has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Guillermo del Toro and Fox Searchlight alleging that the Oscar-nominated film The Shape of Water is a “derivative” work that has “glaring similarities” to a 1969 play.

David Zindel, son of American playwright Paul Zindel, filed the complaint Wednesday alleging that Del Toro’s critically acclaimed film, which has more Oscar nominations than any other this year, has “exploited” the play Let Me Hear You Whisper and should have credited and licensed his father’s work.

The allegations, which Del Toro and the studio have denied, were first reported in the Guardian in January. The copyright complaint filed in California this week marks the first legal action the Zindel family has taken against The Shape of Water, which is nominated for 13 Oscars, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay and three acting awards.

The suit, filed less than two weeks before the Academy Awards on 4 March, outlines similarities in concept, characters, themes and plot points. The Shape of Water, co-written by Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, tells the story of a 1960s Baltimore laboratory cleaner who falls in love with a sea creature whom she tries to rescue. Let Me Hear You Whisper, which aired as a TV production nearly 50 years ago, is also about a female janitor in a laboratory who bonds with a sea creature whom she attempts to save.

“The [film] tells a story that is substantially similar, and in many ways identical, to that of the play,” Zindel’s lawyers wrote in the complaint, alleging “overwhelming similarities” that are “too egregious to ignore”.

– Excerpt from an article written by Sam Levin for The Guardian. Find the full article here


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