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Man Claims 'Planner' Is Copy of His Play

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Man Claims 'Planner' Is Copy of His Play

NORFOLK, Va. -- A Virginia Beach man has filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming the 2001 romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner" copied his screenplay.

In the lawsuit, Jeffery R. Ballard accuses the companies that made and distributed "The Wedding Planner," including Sony Pictures Entertainment, of illegally basing the film on a screenplay he wrote in the 1990s.

His lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Norfolk this month, asks for unspecified damages and a share of profits from the movie, which starred Jennifer Lopez. The film has earned about $97 million in theaters and rentals.

A Sony spokesman declined to comment.

Ballard, 44, told The Virginian-Pilot recently that he writes screenplays in longhand on unlined paper in his free time. U.S. Copyright Office records indicate that he's copyrighted four, including two versions of "In the Palm of My Hand," the screenplay he accuses filmmakers of lifting.

His lawyer, Glen A. Huff, said Ballard noticed similarities after he saw "The Wedding Planner."

In both, a wedding planner falls in love with a client, and they end up together.

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Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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