Why Netflix And Outer Banks' Creators Are Being Sued In New Lawsuit

It's almost hard to believe that Netflix's coastal teen drama Outer Banks only introduced its killer mystery to audiences in April of 2020, which was not long before quarantine fatigue left viewers staring longingly at the series' picturesque locales. But while the show's success was something for Netflix to celebrate at the time, things have taken an unfortunate left turn eight months later, thanks to a new lawsuit filed against both the streaming company and Outer Banks' creators Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, and Shannon Burke.

Netflix has faced various lawsuits over the years, and this latest one takes aim at the popular drama Outer Banks, claiming that its creators ripped off the entirety of its murder-mystery plotline from the 2016 novel Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure! The party doing the suing in this instance is the book's author Kevin Wooten (who goes by K.W. Wooten on the cover).

According to the lawsuit (via TMZ), Kyle Wooten takes the stance that his Pennywise novel follows four young adults who are inspired by a local legend to search for buried treasure said to have been part of a fabled shipwreck. What's more, that particular story takes place entirely in the outer banks of North Carolina, where the Netflix series is set.

Beyond the general story synopsis, Kyle Wooten also accuses Outer Banks' creators of copying its protagonists, its villains and certain plot mechanics. He claims that the show ripped off the rich benefactor and corrupt cop characters from his pirate novel, and claims that some of the clues that the teens find are virtually identical, as well as where those clues lead.

What's more, Kyle Wooten definitely doesn't think this is merely a coincidental turn of events, either. He claims he sold many copies of the book in Wilmington, North Carolina, and that includes physical copies. Given that brothers Josh and Jonas Pate have openly stated that Wilmington was a big inspiration behind creating Outer Banks, Wooten is of the belief that they must have stumbled across his Pennywise novel and used it as a basis for their Netflix show. The series was renewed for Season 2 this past summer, and already started casting for it.

According to the lawsuit, Kyle Wooten is definitely seeking to be paid for damages done for the alleged copy-catting, but that's not all. He also wants Netflix to include a title card in Outer Banks' credits that says "Story by Kevin Wooten, based upon the novel Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard's Treasure!"

At this time, Netflix has not yet responded to the lawsuit or the claims named therein. As it usually goes with cases like this, a bit of skepticism plays into the accusations, since more than entertainment industry suits have been judged in favor of the defendants. That's not always the deal, of course, but it's very hard to prove anything plagiaristic when it comes to books and live-action projects, since there are almost always enough changes made to keep things just different enough.

Netflix only recently freed itself from the ongoing Enola Holmes lawsuit set forth by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though that was by an undisclosed financial settlement and not by a judge's decision. The streaming service was also hit with a lawsuit over the UK feature Cuties, which was accused of "lewd exhibition" in regards to its child stars. And while Netflix wasn't at the heart of a lawsuit filed by FKA Twigs against ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, the company made the move to take his name off of For Your Consideration promos for the film Pieces of a Woman.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more on the Outer Banks lawsuit as it becomes available, and head to our Winter and Spring 2021 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.