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'Survivor' files lawsuit versus 'Boot Camp', claims copyright law violations

By Reality TV World staff, 04/11/2001 

CBS and Mark Burnett (the producer of Survivor) have filed a lawsuit claiming that Fox's Boot Camp reality series is a rip-off of the their smash hit reality series.

The lawsuit contends that Boot Camp has violated federal copyright law and California state law by mimicking significant elements of Survivor. The suit, filed Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, seeks unspecified monetary damages and changes in Boot Camp, which was 24th in last week's Nielsen ratings. Fox and Boot Camp producer LMNO Productions Inc. are among those named as defendants.

"All in all, aside from its military setting, the premise and format of Boot Camp are virtually identical to Survivor," alleges the suit filed on behalf of CBS and Survivor creator Mark Burnett. "There is absolutely no basis for the claims made by CBS and Mark Burnett," Fox said in a statement Tuesday. "The shows are very different and we believe this is a frivolous lawsuit."

The lawsuit alleges LMNO Productions initially pitched the show to CBS Television President Leslie Moonves in June 2000 as a way to capitalize on the success of Survivor. In Boot Camp, contestants vying for a cash prize were to be voted off by drill instructors, the suit claims. When CBS rejected the show, LMNO tailored 'Boot Camp' more closely to Survivor, including giving voting rights to contestants, the suit says. (this would seem to explain the conflicting media reports that persisted until the show's premiere over how contestants were booted.)

LMNO also hired Scott Messick, a producer of the first Survivor, as director and executive producer of Boot Camp, according to the suit.

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