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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Iraq War Vet Is Not|Amused by Video Game

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CN) - An Army veteran claims a science fiction novel and video game are based on real events from his Iraq war memoir, "House to House."

David Bellavia claims defendant Henry Zhou's book "Flesh and Iron" took the names, descriptions and experiences of real soldiers from his nonfiction book and used them in a book for a science fiction series, the "Warhammer 40,000 Novels."

Sega and others then based the "Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine" video game on the infringing book, Bellavia claims in his May 21 federal lawsuit.

Bellavia, an infantryman, claims "Flesh and Iron" bears a "striking resemblance" to his memoir, published by the Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 2007.

Zhou's book was published by The Black Library in 2010, and distributed in the United States by Simon & Schuster.

All of the publishers, including the Free Press, are named as defendants.

"Descriptions, characters, plot lines, names and events were taken directly from the original work," Bellavia claims.

He wrote his memoir with John R. Bruning, a military and aviation historian. Bellavia says his 2006 contract with Simon & Schuster granted the publisher "the right to exercise or license certain subsidiary rights," but those rights "did not include the right to publish derivative works."

He accuses the publishing giant of fraud, breach of faith, breach of contract and other offenses.

"Simon & Schuster, and its division, Free Press, are internationally well-known for their superior expertise and knowledge in publishing literary works for authors around the world," the complaint states. "As a result, Simon & Schuster has a great degree of bargaining power when entering into publishing agreements with authors seeking to publish their first work."

Bellavia says Simon & Schuster failed to protect his work from misappropriation, and profited from the infringing piece of fiction.

Named as defendants are Zou, Simon & Schuster, Free Press, Games Workshop PLC, Games Workshop Ltd., The Black Library, Relic Entertainment, and Sega of America.

He claims that the defendants "deceived reasonable consumers into believing that the stories told in the infringing works are fictional and created by Zou, when the stories are actually descriptions of real war-time experiences of U.S. Army veterans, some of whom died or were wounded while serving their country."

Bellavia won a Silver Star for his actions during some of the most intense fighting in the Iraq War, according to his biography page on Simon & Schuster's website.

He demands destruction of the infringing works, an accounting and injunction, and punitive damages for copyright violations, aiding and abetting, fraud, breach of contract, breach of faith, deceptive trade, and tortious interference with contract.

He is represented by Ryan Gellman with Colucci & Gallaher, of Buffalo.

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