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Maverick Copyright Dispute Settled: Paramount Prevails

Post Time:2024-04-22 Source:ec.europa.eu Author: Views:

Three decades after the iconic 80s action film first came out, the sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” was warmly received by everyone in 2022, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year.

However, only a few weeks after its release, the heirs of Ehud Yonay, the author of the article that inspired the first film in the saga in 1986, sued Paramount for copyright infringement. The original film was based on an article written by Mr. Yonay, to which Paramount had acquired the exclusive rights at the time. However, under US Copyright Law, authors are allowed to terminate the grant of exclusive licences or copyright assignments starting 25 years after the grant was made. Yonay’s heirs did so, notifying Paramount that they were recovering the copyright over the original article in 2020. They claimed that the studio had failed to reacquire the rights of the article. In its defence, Paramount argued that although the film had been delayed by the pandemic, Top Gun: Maverick was "sufficiently completed" when the rights reverted to the author's family meaning that producing and distributing the film did not amount to copyright infringement since by the time Paramount no longer had the rights to create new material based on the original article, the movie was already made.

After two years of litigation, on 5 April, the California US District Court ruled in favour of Paramount, holding that the essential characteristics of the film, including theme, setting and dialogue, were very different from Ehud Yonay's article. The court also considered that the similarity between the two works regarding a pilot school was merely factual and developed around concepts and ideas which are not protected by copyright law. Following the dismissal, the claimants announced that they would appeal the decision, while Paramount expressed its satisfaction and confirmed that it would proceed with the third film in the Top Gun saga.