Leo Burnett Malaysia is exploring its legal options after Malaysia director Tan Chui Mui recently began making very public allegations of copying over social media.
Using the hashtag #LeoburnettPlagiarism, Tan alleged that she pitched the idea and story for Rubber boy to the agency back in 2014. It was rejected by the agency at the time, but Tan claims it was used two years later in the film that shortlisted at Cannes in the film craft category this year.
Tan took to Facebook, stating: “For many months I was just keeping quiet. As I do not like to waste time complaining. But I can’t believe how an Ad Agency like Leo Burnett can just use the story I had pitched to them without asking my permission. And when my team Bea Meow and We Jun met them, their lawyer told them that Malaysian law does not protect idea. And the creative writer said they had only used two of the major scenes, not the whole story.”
Tan contends the film should have been disqualified from Cannes, and appeared to suggest she may take legal action against the company. The Screen Association Screenwriters’ Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have supported her claims.
Leo Burnett has denied any wrongdoing. The company’s creative director James Yap asserts that the two scripts “bear no resemblance to one another. As my friend would say they are so far apart, you’d have to take a bus to get there.”
The allegations have sparked discussion over the issue of creative originality, with some commentators pointing out that the basis of the story – a son helping his mother – is such a common Malaysian theme so as to bear no claim of originality.
As reported in Mumbrella, the boss of Leo Burnett, Tan Kien Eng, said: “I do not condone or endorse plagiarism. Credit is always given, wherever it is deserved…The allegation that Rubber Boy is based on plagiarised material or script is incorrect.”
We will keep you posted.