outer banks netflix lawsuit


North Carolina teacher accuses Netflix of ripping-off ‘Outer Banks’ plot from his novel

English and creative writing teacher files copyright infringement lawsuit.

Dec 29, 2020, 12:08 pm*

Internet Culture


Audra Schroeder

Teen treasure-hunt drama Outer Banks debuted on Netflix in April, and quickly became one of the platform’s most popular new shows. But a North Carolina teacher and author claims the plot of the series was lifted from his novel.

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Earlier this month, English and creative writing teacher Kevin Wooten filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Netflix and the creators of the series—Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, and Shannon Burke—alleging that they lifted plot, characters, scenes, and setting from his 2016 young adult novel Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard's Treasure! He is seeking royalties, punitive damages, and a credit on each episode.

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The lawsuit includes a detailed rundown of similarities, and Wooten's attorneys are attempting to prove that the creators had access to the book. The suit claims that Wooten sold hard copies of the book in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Josh and Jonas Pate lived, and cites a Wilmington Star-News article from April in which the Pates claimed "third-party adventure novels" inspired Outer Banks. (The series was shot in Charleston, South Carolina, though Wilmington was the original location.)

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, his attorneys said in a statement: "As a creative writing instructor for young adults, Mr. Wooten teaches his students every day about the importance of keeping their writings original and protecting them, so it’s natural that he would assert his copyrights to his novel once he discovered the infringement."

Outer Banks was renewed for season 2 over the summer. Netflix has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

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*First Published: Dec 29, 2020, 12:07 pm