Boy, seeing as how All Eyez on Me has already been slammed by 50 Cent and Jada Pinkett Smith for alleged factual inaccuracies, it’s not going to make them feel better to think that the Tupac Shakur biopic could have been based on a journalist’s embellishment of the truth. While the Lionsgate film purports to give an accurate retelling of the too-short life of the “California Love” rapper, a new copyright lawsuit filed by journalist Kevin Powell on Friday alleges that the movie is actually based on his Vibe interviews of Shakur. Interviews, Powell claims, that contained his own “fictional characters and re-worked narratives,” including one “made-up character” named Nigel.
Because, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, the historical facts of Shakur’s life do not belong to Powell, the extent to which he altered the details of the rapper’s life, and the degree to which All Eyez on Me used that altered history, is key to establishing whether or not copyright infringement occurred. According to the filing, “While some of the content in these articles was factual, some portions of the article were changed or embellished by Plaintiff.” Deadline notes that the suit specifically names producer Lenton Terrell Hutton, who has publicly stated that the film used all of Shakur’s interviews for its source material. This usage constitutes infringement, according to Powell’s complaint, because “[t]here are stories with fictional characters and re-worked narratives that are unique to the Original Work that appear in the Infringing Work.” Powell goes on to claim that his influence on the movie is clear in part due to the character of Nigel, who did not actually exist. “In fact, the name and character of ‘Nigel’ in the Original Work was specifically created by the Plaintiff without the authority or encouragement of Tupac Shakur,” his claim alleges. “This made-up character of Nigel was the embellishment of a real-life character that was central to the narrative in Plaintiff’s articles. This made-up character was copied and pasted into Defendant’s film to play the same central character and role in the Infringing Work as he did in the Original Work.” Disquieting news for 2pac fans, even worse news for Nigel fans.