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Tupac Shakur biopic hit with copyright-infringement lawsuit

Tupac, pictured here a few weeks before his death, is one of rap's most influential figures

Tupac, pictured here a few weeks before his death in September 1996, is one of rap’s most influential figures.

TUPAC Shakur’s brief career and lifetime were riddled with controversy, so it seems only fitting that some of that controversy would spill over onto the biopic of the hip-hop artist from Marin City.

Kevin Powell, the writer and activist who wrote a series of articles on Shakur for Vibe magazine in the mid-1990s, has filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against the makers of “All Eyez on Me.” Powell claims the script was based on his articles, but says he did not grant producers permission to use his work, according to TMZ.

Much of the movie is told through flashbacks related during a prison interview of Shakur (portrayed by Demetrius Shipp Jr.) by a journalist. Powell based his Vibe articles from a visit with Shakur while the rapper served time in 1995 for a sexual assault conviction at a New York state correctional facility.

The lawsuit claims that some of the movie’s characters were based on real people found only in Powell’s articles, including the pivotal “Nigel” character.

Powell has asked a judge that the film be pulled from theaters, and is asking for a percentage of the movie’s box office receipts. The writer, who is also known as one of the original cast members of MTV’s “Real World” reality show, is believed to be working on a Shakur biography, according to TMZ.

Last week Jada Pinkett Smith, a childhood friend of Shakur’s, blasted the movie with a Twitter rant claiming the scenes between Shipp Jr. and Kat Graham (who plays Pinkett Smith) were dreamed up.

“Forgive me… my relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in All Eyez On Me to stand as truth,” read one tweet.

Shakur was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April, becoming the first solo rapper to receive the honor. He was born in New York City to parents who were members of the Black Panthers movement. He also lived in Baltimore before moving in 1988 to the Bay Area, where his music career began.

Shakur is hailed as one of the most influential rappers of all time, with much of his lyrics depicting the struggles of urban life in realistic yet poetic terms. He sold more than 75 million records, and also enjoyed success as an actor in such movies as “Juice” and “Poetic Justice.”

Shakur was at the forefront of the East Coast-West Coast rivalry that divided the hip-hop community in the 1990s. He was 25 when he was fatally injured during a drive-by shooting on the streets of Las Vegas in September 1996.

The Notorious B.I.G., Shakur’s one-time friend turned East Coast rival, met a similar fate in Los Angeles six months later. Neither case has been solved. –