Legal dispute over Miracle Rising

2013-02-10 10:01

Local production company Combined Artists faces a lawsuit from a Joburg academic over the much anticipated Miracle Rising: South Africa documentary, scheduled to premiere on DStv’s History Channel tomorrow night.

Dr Geoffrey Heald, a senior lecturer at Wits University business school, is crying foul over alleged copyright violations.

Heald accuses the production house of failing to credit him in Miracle Rising.

He alleges several of his literary works, including a PhD thesis, formed the basis of the documentary.

He has approached the North Gauteng High Court to seek a declaration that the film constitutes a reproduction and/or adaption of his work for which he is not credited.

The doccie celebrates South Africa’s democratic breakthrough and features interviews with some of the biggest names in politics, business, civil society and the arts, including Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Mamphela Ramphele, Whoopi Goldberg, Charlize Theron and Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking for Combined Artists, attorney Lucia Smyth confirmed Heald had instituted legal action against her clients.

“The claim of copyright violation has been denied by our client. We are challenging it,” Smyth said.

City Press has learnt Heald initially approached the History Channel in the US in 2006 to enquire whether his PhD thesis could be converted into a documentary. The channel responded positively and advised him to contact Combined Artists and Brett Lotriet, a television director and writer.

Heald’s thesis was then passed on to the History Channel, Combined Artists and others including Lotriet, Thys Botha and Michele Sparkes.

Heald had been working with Sparkes and Lotriet on the documentary since 2006 when a pilot was shot.

Heald was then approached by Combined Artists to discuss his credits in 2012.

He insisted that his copyright be acknowledged in the film.

Combined Artists took the view that the documentary was not based on his two theses and he had no claim to the copyright.

The show will still be screened.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.