Copyright Lawsuit Hungover from the Hangover II

Did the Hangover II rip off a man’s actual life story? Michael Alan Rubin claims it was his international adventures from which the creators of the franchise concocted the idea for the comedy.

According Rubin’s federal lawsuit filed in California, he married a Japanese woman named Tamayo in Japan. The couple honeymooned in Thailand and India, where they began to argue over Rubin’s financial situation. According to Rubin, events very similar to the Hangover II occurred on this vacation.

Rubin claims he met a Bollywood producer who gave him work as a leading actor on several films. Rubin then decided to turn his honeymoon experience into a feature film, so he wrote a script entitled Mickey and Kirin. He allegedly submitted a copy with the Writers Guild of America and later heard from a Hollywood friend about Hangover II, the story of some Asian misadventures by Americans on the way to a wedding.

Rubin is suing for copyright infringement, misappropriation of his publicity rights, and defamation. He believes the filmmakers suggested the inference that he was under the influence of drugs when he proposed to a male-to-female transexual prostitute.

Rubin has no legal representation in this matter and has no evidence that the Hangover II creators knew who he was or had access to his work (an important prong of the legal analysis for copyright infringement).

Does Rubin have a claim here?  Is it ever a good idea to represent yourself in a federal legal matter?  Does his submission with the Writers Guild mean that the Hangover II creators had access to his work?

For more information, visit: The Hollywood Reporter.

4 comments

  1. Although I do not know much about copyright law, it appears that if Rubin is telling the truth (and this is actually his story) then he may have a real claim.
    If Rubin submitted this story to the Writers Guild of America, and they in turn stole his story and made it into the Hangover II without any reference to Rubin, then it seems like he has every right to sue them for copyright infringement, assuming that someone is allowed to sue when they have technically not “copyrighted” something that is their own. Even if he is not entitled to a suit based on copyright infringement, there should be some other cause of action upon which he can rightfully claim his story back from the people who stole it from him.
    Whatever the case, it just seems wrong that this man’s story has been ripped off of him, and that he did not receive any acknowledgements for it.
    However, his chances at a successful lawsuit seem slight if he plans to represent himself. Rubin likely knows very little about federal law, and would do much better if he hired a lawyer to represent him. This seems like it would be a case that many copyright or entertainment lawyers would be interested in, since the reward could potentially be so large.

  2. I do not think that Rubin has a very strong claim here. He has no proof that the creators of the Hangover II knew anything about his personal story or the script that he created. Without any evidence he is simply stating that because the story is similar to something that he wrote a script for he has a copyright claim. This is simply not enough to bring a suit. Rubin would need some evidence that would indicate that the creators had heard about his story or somehow stumbled upon his script, which does not seem to be the case here. Although Rubin had submitted the script to the Writers Guild that does not create a presumption that the creators had access to it. Without more there is no proof that the creators had any contact with the script. I think that Rubin is taking a huge risk by representing himself in this matter, considering he does not seem to realize the type of evidence that will be necessary to persuade a court to rule in his favor.

  3. It seems that the only evidence potentially admissible is Rubin’s submission to the WGA. Even then, it does not create a presumption that the Hangover II creators had access to it. Does this mean the WGA should have a system by which every script should be scanned for potential copyright infringements or plagiarism based on existing scripts within the Guild? This seems to be one of the only ways or the most streamlined way to prevent these types of lawsuits. What other ways could Hollywood deal with this existing issue?

  4. Maybe Rubin is still having financial problems and needs to make a quick buck. It will likely be hard for him to prove that the writers of Hangover II had access to his script. I am sure that their are many other stories of people with wild and crazy Thai adventures. Perhaps Rubin is representing himself because no lawyer would take the case, recognizing what a loser it was. The similarities mentioned here are most probably little more than coincidences. Perhaps he can get a quick settlement, but he will likely lose. Mere coincidence is not enough to entertain a copyright infringement claim, and unless Rubin can come up with more evidence showing the writers of Hangover II knew of his script, he has no hope of prevailing in the suit.

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