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Tyler Perry takes the stand in copyright lawsuit

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[December 04, 2008]  MARSHALL, Texas (AP) -- Actor-screenwriter Tyler Perry testified in a copyright infringement lawsuit Wednesday that he did not steal material from a woman's play for his blockbuster movie "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."

Donna West is suing Perry in federal court, arguing that he lifted material from a script she wrote titled "Fantasy of a Black Woman," which was based primarily on her own experiences. She wants a jury to award her family all the profits made from Perry's 2005 film, which earned some $50 million.

Perry insisted that his screenplay is an original work, but under questioning by West's attorney, said he did not know whether anyone actually saw him write the script, The Marshall News Messenger reported for its Thursday editions.

Perry's attorney said his client doesn't have an original copy of his script because he sends all his work to the Library of Congress for a copyright.

West's attorney, Aubrey "Nick" Pittman, suggested that Perry copied ideas from other movies and incorporated them into his box office hit. He asked Perry whether he had taken concepts from "Mrs. Doubtfire," "The Color Purple," "An Officer and a Gentleman" and Martin Lawrence's role in "Big Momma's House."

"I never stole anything from anybody -- never," Perry said, locking his eyes with the jury.

Jurors on Tuesday watched the film and listened to a reading of the script from West's play which was performed in 1991 at the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters at the Dallas Convention Center.

L.D. Dabney, an associate of West and a theater arts enthusiast of the Dallas area, testified earlier Wednesday that when he first saw Perry's film in July 2006, he thought it was based on West's play because he knew what was going to happen from one scene to the next.

Testimony was expected to resume Thursday.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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