Judge dismisses lawsuit against Apple TV+ show 'Servant', directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Servant (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Apple TV+ show Servant.
  • A suit was filed in January by the writer of The Truth about Emanuel, Francesca Gregorini.
  • Both stories are about a grieving mother caring for a doll as if it were real, but a judge said that wasn't enough.

A lawsuit against Apple TV+ show Servant, directed by M Night. Shyamalan has been dismissed by a judge.

Francesca Gregorini, writer and director of The Truth About Emanuel, filed a lawsuit again M. Night Shyamalan and Apple over Servant and alleged similarities between the two works. At the time, Apple and Shyamalan claimed that Servant had been in development before 2013, long before Emanuel was made, and that Shyamalan hadn't seen or heard of the film. Both works follow the story of a grieving mother, caring for a doll as if it were a real child with the help of a female baby sitter.

Judge John F. Walter ruled that the two works were not similar enough to merit a lawsuit stating:

"In sum, the alleged similarities between the works pale in comparison to the differences in the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters, and sequence of events, and the Court concludes that the works at issue are not substantially similar as a matter of law"

He further noted that the shared premise alone was not enough to merit a violation of copyright law, and that beyond this "unprotectable share premise, the works' storylines diverge drastically and quickly."

In a statement of response to the ruling, Gregorini stated:

"Today's ruling is disappointing, but not surprising. The balance of power in the entertainment industry has always favored powerful men and institutions. Their ultimate goal is to silence anyone whose work they steal and repurpose without credit."'The Truth About Emanuel' is a very personal labor of love. It took me years to write, finance, and direct. To have all that work stolen is not only hurtful, it disregards all the hard work needed to bring Emanuel to the screen. Unfortunately, this is the status quo in the entertainment industry. Powerful, mostly male, forces work to take what they want from other creators and repurpose it as their own. Throughout this process, I've heard from countless other filmmakers whose work has been stolen without permission. And this is M. Night Shylaman's third time being accused of unlawfully taking others' work. Where there is smoke, there is fire."My case is an attempt to hold those powerful forces accountable and protect the work of so many talented voices who are not as rich and powerful as M. Night Shyamalan. I hoped for a different outcome. I will not allow this to silence me. I intend to appeal this ruling and continue to make my case that 'Servant' and 'The Truth About Emanuel' share similarities that were undoubtedly and knowingly plagiarized."

As per the statement, Gregorini intends to appeal the case, meaning this isn't the last we've heard of this particular saga.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9