|Effie Gray |
(Thomas Richmond 1802-1874)
Effie is based on the romantic life of Euphemia "Effie" Gray, who was married first to Victorian-era art critic John Ruskin and then John Everett Millais, a painter and founder of the pre-Raphaelite art movement who had painted her. The annulment of her first marriage to Ruskin, which was never consummated by Ruskin, caused a scandal at the time. Gregory Murphy, an author, claimed that the Effie screenplay infringed on a copyright for a screenplay that he had written, also about Gray's love life, based on his West End play "The Countess" and his claim is perhaps best summed up in a 2011 article in the Daily Mail titled "The Day I Sat in Emma Thompson's Kitchen and Accused Her of Stealing my Movie". Murphy is sure his screenplay was sent to Thompson and her husband through a mutual friend, and by the casting director of his play.
Murphy had said that he felt Thompson;s screenplay was "distinctly related to my screenplay in its time-frame, character development, structure and tone". Rather than wait for Murphy to file a lawsuit, Effie Film LLC, which was producing Thompson's movie, pre-emptively sought a declaratory judgment in 2011 from the court in Manhattan against Murphy, not least as the film was at a critical stage in the funding process. Effie Film then moved for a judgment on pleadings last May.
|Effie Gray by Millais|
Mr Murphy responded to the decision saying "we are reviewing all options, and our first will be to request a copy of the finished film" . Thompson's movie is in post-production and stars Dakota Fanning as Effie Gray, Tom Sturridge as Millais, and Thompson as Effie's supporter, Lady Eastlake.
Last year, District Judge Paul Oetken, also in the Southern District of New York, ruled that Thompson's screenplay did not infringe a copyright on another screenplay about the same love triangle by author Eve Pomerance.
"We are pleased that Judge Griesa's decision confirms that copyright does not protect history and every author is free to draw from the historical record" Thompson's lawyer Andrew Deutsch (DLA Piper) said in a statement
Effie Film LLC v. Murphy, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-00783.