Paramount Pictures is in hot water after they lost a motion to dismiss a copyright lawsuit related to Top Gun: Maverick.
Israeli author Ehud Yonay wrote a 1983 magazine story that inspired the original Top Gun film. His family said that they recovered the copyright and that Paramount didn’t secure the film rights before the sequel.
In June, Shosh and Yuval Yonay – widow and son of late Israeli writer Ehud Yonay filed a copyright claim against Paramount for their film Top Gun: Maverick. The family argues that the studio did not have the original story’s rights when Top Gun: Maverick was released.
Yonay’s legally gave motion picture rights to Paramount in 1986. However, the agreement between Yonay and Paramount stated that after 35 years, the studio would no longer have a license to use the story.
The family’s lawsuit alleges that the expiration date on the copyright was in 2018.
At that point, the Yonay’s filed a notice to reclaim the publishing rights to Top Guns from Paramount, giving the studio until January 2020 to comply.
A Paramount spokesperson responded, “These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
According to the legal document filed by the Yonays, the family “properly availed themselves of their right to recover the copyright to the Story under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 203(a), by sending Paramount a statutory notice of termination (the ‘Termination Notice’) and after that filing it with the Copyright Office, effective January 24, 2020.”
The Yonays could reclaim the rights to Ehud’s article because of this legal stipulation, allowing them to sue Paramount Pictures for making money off Top Gun: Maverick.
In the motion to dismiss, Paramount stated that they did not need to obtain the rights because “Top Gun: Maverick” is a fictional story that has hardly anything in common with the non-fiction article written in 1983 and that the facts and ideas conveyed in the article cannot be copyrighted.
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