from the keep-up dept
Thanks to the rise of “ownership society” where intellectual property maximalists like to push the concept that you can “own” ideas, any time there’s a remotely successful book, movie or TV show, we hear about lawsuits from people insisting that the idea for the story was “stolen.” Of course, almost none of these have any merit whatsoever. However, when it comes to the movie Avatar, it seems like the movie didn’t just break box office and overall revenue numbers — it’s breaking records with lawsuits from people trying to get a piece of the action as well. In the past we’ve written about multiple different lawsuits against James Cameron over where the story came from. Most of these were pretty laughable — just people who had written stories with vague plot similarities. However, they keep coming.
Not sure why it’s all happening now, but three new lawsuits have been filed from people claiming that the Avatar story was “stolen.” One of the lawsuits is asking for $2.5 billion in damages. For one of the most cliched and overused plotlines around. Wow.
However, that article at THResq also notes that one of the earliest lawsuits over this was unceremoniously dumped as a judge reminded the plaintiff, Kelly Van, that “plot similarities are abstract ideas that are not protected by copyright.” The court also noted that the dialogue was entirely different, and the attempt to show similarities was pretty laughable:
The examples provided by the Plaintiff fail to show any similarities that would rise to the level of being substantial. Such examples lack similarities in vocabulary and meaning, only vaguely referencing a similar abstract idea at times. For example, the dialogue, “It was all a big secret back then and up until four years ago we didn’t even know that there was a science base clear on the other side of the planet, unavailable to any of us” and “There’s a mobile link up at Site 26 we can work out of, way up in the mountains” share no similarities other than the general idea that a second remote science facility exists on each planet.
It goes on like this busting every single claim of copying. I imagine most of the other lawsuits will face the same result. It’s really too bad that courts haven’t done much in the way of awarding attorneys fees on lots of these kinds of lawsuits. There were similar lawsuits around Harry Potter, the Davinci Code and even Hannah Montana, and they’re such a huge waste of time. Wouldn’t it be nice if people finally realized that just because you had a story idea, it doesn’t mean that no one else came up with something similar?