In June 2017, activist and journalist Kevin Powell made posts to both Instagram and Facebook that expressed his intent to file a federal lawsuit against the producers and writers of the “All Eyez On Me” film. Powell claimed that the film used his intellectual property without proper consent.
“All Eyez On Me” was a biopic focused on the life of Tupac Shakur which was released in the United States on June 16, 2017. Powell made his announcement of his intent to sue the producers and writers of the film a week later. On April 6, nearly a year after this announcement, reports have surfaced that he has voluntarily dismissed his claims against the defendants. However, it is noted that his dismissal of the claims allows him to refile them at a later date if he wishes. You can read his original statement below:
STATEMENT from Kevin Powell on ALL EYEZ ON ME, the Tupac Shakur biopic
“After a great deal of thought and consultation with many, including my attorneys, I have filed a federal lawsuit against the producers and writers of ALL EYEZ ON ME, the new Tupac Shakur biopic, for copyright infringement. After viewing the movie twice in the past few days, it is clear that my exclusive Vibe cover stories on Tupac Shakur (when he was alive), were lifted, without proper credit or compensation of any kind to me, and used in ALL EYEZ ON ME. As the owner of the copyright to these articles, ALL EYEZ ON ME infringed on my rights by using content and narrative that was exclusive to my writings. I am seeking justice and a resolution in this matter that is fully fair to me and all the work I’ve done throughout the years, as an author and protector of the Tupac Shakur narrative. Any questions are to be directed to my lawyers, Keith White and Ken Montgomery, [email protected] and [email protected] I have nothing further to say at this time.”
One of the Vibe cover stories that Powell is referring to is likely to be the interview that was published in Vibe magazine at in April 1995. The interview, which you can read here, was conducted at Rikers Island, where Tupac was awaiting sentencing for his New York rape case. In the interview, Tupac spoke on topics such as the case he was facing, being shot five times, and about the time he had spent in prison up to that point.
In the section of the interview where he discusses the shooting, Tupac named an individual named Nigel, a business partner of his whom he alleged to be involved in the rape case he was sitting for at the time. Complex sat down with Kevin Powell in 2015 for an interview, in which he discussed his cover story interview with Tupac Shakur.
In a 2015 interview with Complex, Powell revealed that all the names in his Tupac cover stories were changed in order to prevent the publication and Tupac himself from being sued for libel. The real name of the individual Tupac was referring to was Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant. This effectively makes the “Nigel” character fictional, but the production team still used the name for the movie, which was the basis of Powell’s claims. Additionally, a reporter interviews Tupac at Rikers Island in the movie, just as Powell did.
Before recently dropping the lawsuit, Powell requested that the judge in the case immediately block the film from playing in theaters, and to be awarded a portion of the profits the film had already made. Neither of those things happened.