Like most lawsuits this one gets somewhat complicated. So let me try to explain it in a clear and understandable way
Earlier last week, rapper Pras Michel of The Fugees filed a lawsuit against documentary filmmaker Marshall Tyler, over the ownership of the documentary Paper Dreams, which Tyler made, about the infamous 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship.
You’ll remember that incident in which the captain of the ship, Richard Phillips, volunteered to surrender to the pirates in exchange for his crew. He was later rescued by Navy SEAL snipers who killed the piates.
The incident was recently made into a feature film by director Paul Greenglass (The Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum, United 93, Green Zone) with Tom Hanks as Phillips and scheduled to be released in October 2013.
Tyler prevsiously worked with Michel on his 2007 documenatry Skid Row, in which Michel, for 9 days, lived as a homeless person on the streets of Los Angeles, to chronicle what the day-to-day experience of being homeless is like.
Paper Dreams, however, was to be different, since the film would tell of Michel’s own near-fatal experiences dealing with those same Somali priates which he claimed that he, and a film crew who was with him, ran into, while boating off the East African coast.
Michel even goes further and says that he himself was also held hostage for a period of the time by the same pirates, but later let go.
Now you’re saying, wait a minute… Pras was held captive by those same Somali pirates who hijacked the cargo ship? How come I haven’t heard about this before?
Well one main reason is because some people claim that it didn’t happen at all. That Michel was, at most, a witness to the hihjacking, and that’s about it. He was never kidnapped, nor was his life in danger at any time.
Anyway, getting back to the lawsuit, Michel claims that Tyler, in effect, is holding Paper Dreams hostage and refusing to hand the film over to him, now the film is fiinshed with post-production and ready for distribution.
Michel states that he has spent over $70,000 of his own money on the film, covering much of the shooting and traveling expenses for the crew. His lawsuit seeks to either get the film in his hands, or to be paid back the money he spent on the film, plus other expenses.
A representative for Tyler however says that Michel is trying to get back the film to put his copyright ownership on it, but the ownership of the film belongs to Tyler not Michel: “That Pras is trying to assert ownership on material that Marshall holds the copyright to…”
So that’s where things stand for now. Anything else comes up, we’ll let you know.