The myth of Sophia Stewart endures

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The myth of Sophia Stewart endures

Tue Nov 17, 2009 @ 09:54AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Matrix_30 Science fiction writers have long been fascinated with parallel universes. Perhaps in one, Sophia Stewart really did win $2.5 billion against Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, James Cameron and the Wachowski brothers for allegedly ripping off a short story to create both the "Matrix" and "Terminator" film franchises.

But not in this universe. 

Yet the tale of Stewart's huge court victory has flourished despite any evidence. Last week, a few small news outlets published news of a win, and word spread quickly. Sophia Stewart became a hot search item on Google, the talk of Twitter, and various podcasts rushed to interview her on the success.

Huh? Flash back five years.

In 2004, a Los Angeles federal judge dismissed Stewart's copyright complaints because of a lack of evidence showing similarity between an unpublished story, "The Third Eye," and the defendants' successful films. A year later, the LA Times published a 2000-word feature called "The Billion Dollar Myth" examining the Sophia Stewart phenomenon, from newspapers mistakenly reporting court victories and Internet rumor-mongering to the proposition that the case of an aggrieved African American writer illustrated racial tensions and distrust of mainstream media.

Since then, Stewart has been an underground cult hero, no doubt aided by her own testimonials on her blog, MySpace page, message boards and podcasts.

But here's a little twist to the story: Those who trumpet Stewart's victories are at least right that there continues to be courtroom action on the woman's huge claims. However, they haven't been very successful. In 2007, in Utah district court, Stewart sued her attorneys in the original case for malpractice (including failing to prepare evidence and perjury before the court). She tried to enter fraudulent copyright registrations of "The Matrix" as proof of some wrongdoing. 

A Utah district judge has denied Stewart's motions and objections several times this year, most recently two weeks ago. Here's an example of the ongoing saga of Sophia Stewart. The myth endures.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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