Chinua Achebe Takes On 50 Cent
In one corner, it’s Chinua Achebe, Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart—one of the most celebrated novels in the history of the planet.
In the other corner, it’s 50 Cent, famous rapper, wanna-be actor.
Last year, these two faced off in a lawsuit showdown—slightly less interesting than a showcase showdown on The Price Is Right.
At issue, the name of 50 Cent’s upcoming movie at the time, Things Fall Apart. Achebe—or, more accurately, Achebe’s lawyers—said you can’t do that, Fiddy. You can’t use the name of one of the most celebrated novels in the world for your low end movie about a football player with cancer.
So Achebe sued Mr. Cent. And then Mr. Cent allegedly offered Achebe $1 million for the rights to the title. Achebe was insulted. His lawyers responded:
“The novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958.”[It is] listed as the most-read book in modern African literature, and won’t be sold for even £1bn.”
Well said, Mr. Achebe’s lawyers. Mr. Cent changed the name of the film to All Things Fall Apart.
Interesting, though, that the title of Things Fall Apart actually comes from a Yeats poem. And I know books and movies have shared titles in the past.
I wonder if Achebe’s team sued because of the perceived artistic merit of the film? In other words, had the film starred Denzel Washington and still had no connection to the book, would they still have sued?
All of this leads into a greater discussion on copyright, which I have neither the time nor motivation to research and provide answers on why Fiddy’s people had to change the name.
Whose side do you fall on? Any lawyers out there that can offer your two cents?
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)