Author Issues Copyright Infringement Lawsuit to Netflix for ‘Burning Sands’, Claims Netflix Stole His Story

Al Quarles Jr. filed a lawsuit against streaming service giant, Netflix. The author/educator filed the lawsuit on the basis that the Netflix original film Burning Sands is actually his stolen intellectual property. The film, which starred Trevor Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Steve Harris, Rotimi Akinosho, and Trevante Rhodes, first premiered March 10, 2017.

According to Quarles, Netflix’s Burning Sands bears a striking resemblance to a book he wrote about hazing in black fraternities years prior to the movie’s release. Of note, the book he wrote also shares the same name of the film. Quarles believes that this among other details surrounding his claims suggests that Netflix based Burning Sands on his own work.

THR reports that Quarles is suing Netflix as well as Mandalay Entertainment Group for copyright infringement, claiming he spent nearly two decades writing a two-volume book called Burning Sands only to have the streaming giant create an original film based on his work without giving him credit or compensation as the script/screenplay’s source material.

The first volume of the two volume book, entitled My Brother’s Keeper, came out in 2014, two years prior to the screenwriters completing their script for the project.

“The Book is a coming-of-age story about the experiences of 6 young men pledging a fraternity at a rural historically black college,” Quarles’s attorney Bryan Lentz states in the complaint that was filed Monday (July 17). “In addition to the identical title and setting, the Book and the Film contain elements that are virtually identical, including characters with the same names and plot-points crafted to convey identical meanings and representations.”

Quarles notes that a series of plot points that are almost identical to plot points in his book, including the small amount of men pledging at the HBCU’s fraternity, a character dying due to the unlawful hazing, and the inclusion of an Edward Guest poem recital about perseverance. He also suggests that the similarities of both projects all boil down to the central theme of both works: “the tragic irony of the fact that these young black men put[ting] themselves through this brutal process in order to join an elite club of networked, successful black male professionals.”

Quarles wants the court to admonish Netflix and Mandalay from being able to market, sell, license, or develop any media based off of the events and occurrences from his work. He is also seeking damages that occurred due to them borrowing heavily from his work without crediting and paying him what he is owed as the source material for the film.

Netflix has yet to make a comment on the matter.

The lawsuit was filed July 18. You can read the 32-page document in full here.

Photo Credit: PR Photos

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.