It's gotta be hard if you're a struggling artist and you think a major studio ripped off your idea. What's even harder, though, is backdating that idea, forging some sketches, and suing said studio in an attempt to extort a multimillion dollar settlement.
So hard in fact, that you'll probably be forced to withdraw your civil lawsuit, then get charged, indicted, and convicted on federal fraud and perjury charges, sentenced to two years in prison, and forced to pay the studio $3 million. Irony, right?
Drawing a Check
Jayme Gordon claims he saw a trailer for Kung Fu Panda several months before the movie's 2008 release. According to his lawsuit, Gordon created some drawings and a story about panda called "Kung Fu Panda Powers." What it turns out he had actually created was just "Panda Power," some sketches that bore more resemblance to a 1996 Disney coloring book than the characters in the DreamWorks movie.
Both DreamWorks and the federal government contend he simply revised his drawings and story after seeing the trailer and renamed it. Federal prosecutors claim Gordon used these revised artworks as the basis of his civil lawsuit and demand that DreamWorks settle the claim for $12 million.
Drawing a Line
As Deadline reports, that wasn't even the worst of Gordon's alleged behavior:
During the course of the civil litigation, which cost DWA $3 million in legal fees, Gordon intentionally deleted relevant evidence on his computer that he was required to produce in discovery and lied during his civil deposition, federal prosecutors said. He also fabricated and backdated sketches that served as support for his suit.
And because copyright infringement lawsuits are filed in U.S. District Courts, federal prosecutors decided to step in and file charges.
So let this be a lesson to starving artists: one, don't plagiarize; two, don't alter your own work in an attempt to prove it predates someone else's; and three, don't do both of these things and then destroy evidence and perjure yourself in a get-rich-quick extortion lawsuit.