A week after opening to a tepid critical response and accusations of historical inaccuracies from actress Jada Pinkett Smith — as well as a misinterpreted Internet joke that had many searching in vain for the appearance of an iPhone in the film — the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez On Me has now been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit.
The suit — filed today by Kevin Powell, a longtime pop culture writer, author, activist — accuses the film's executive producers, screenwriters and distributors of cribbing from three cover stories on Shakur that Powell wrote for Vibe during the height of Shakur's career. [Disclosure: NPR Music published an article by Powell, a remembrance of the recently deceased rapper Prodigy, earlier today.]
Powell addressed the suit on Facebook, writing:
"After viewing the movie twice in the past few days, it is clear that my exclusive Vibe cover stories on Tupac Shakur (when he was alive), were lifted, without proper credit or compensation of any kind to me."
The list of defendants includes executive producers James G. Robinson, L.T. Hutton, screenwriters Steven Bagatourian, Jeremy Haft and Eddie Gonzales, as well as Morgan Creek Productions, Lions Gate and Program Pictures. Director Benny Boom was not named in the suit. Powell is seeking a series of damages, including $180,000 for each "broadcast" of the film.
Lions Gate and Morgan Creek were not immediately available for comment on the allegations.