Entertainment NewsParamount Wins in "Top Gun" Copyright Infringement Case

Paramount Wins in “Top Gun” Copyright Infringement Case


Key Takeaways:

– Top Gun took flight in 1986, leading to soaring careers for Tom Cruise, Tony Scott, Val Kilmer, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Don Simpson.
– The sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, premiered in 2022, continuing the franchise’s successful trajectory.
– A copyright lawsuit filed by the family of Ehud Yonay, author of the original Top Guns magazine article, has been dismissed.
– The judge ruled that similarities between the article and the movie are “unprotectable factual similarities.”
– Plaintiffs’ representative Marc Toberoff has announced plans to appeal the dismissal.

The Origins of Top Gun

Released in 1986, the iconic film Top Gun was a defining moment in Hollywood history. The movie propelled leading man Tom Cruise into the limelight, solidified Tony Scott as a sought-after director for action movies, and made Val Kilmer a recognizable face. Partners Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson also gained significant momentum as a big-league producing duo in the industry.

Journey to Franchise Status

Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the film, had a resounding success on their hands. However, Top Gun didn’t evolve into a franchise until 2022. The much-anticipated sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, took off at the box office after years of strategic planning and careful development. Ironically, the Top Gun story began not with a screenplay but with a magazine article in California Magazine in May 1983.

Lawsuit Takeoff: An Article Leads to Contention

Penned by the late Ehud Yonay, the piece, titled “Top Guns,” served as the inspiration for the big-screen blockbuster. Yonay’s family, specifically Shosh and Yuval Yonay, filed a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement. They suggested that essential elements from the original film were lifted from the article, contributing to the film’s skyrocketing success.

Court Ruling: Lawsuit Dismissed

Contrary to the plaintiffs’ claims, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson dismissed the case. The Hollywood Reporter uncovered that the judge declared the film’s plot, theme, setting, and dialogue to be “largely dissimilar” from Yonay’s article. Furthermore, the overlapping factual similarities between the article and the film — including the central location of a fighter pilot training school — were not protected by copyright law.

The order elaborated that the similarities supposedly infringing upon the copyright were indeed “unprotectable factual similarities.” Top Gun, being a real fighter pilot school, and the real people mentioned in the article (like Yogi and Possum) are not elements that copyright law protects.

Paramount’s Reaction and Plaintiffs’ Appeal

Despite the court’s verdict, plaintiffs have announced plans to appeal. Marc Toberoff, representing the Yonay family, made a statement underlining that Yonay’s widow and son had exercised their rights under the Copyright Act to reclaim what they believe is rightfully Yonay’s story. Asserting that Paramount dismissed their rights, Toberoff concluded, “It’s not a good look.”

In conclusion, Paramount appears to be out of the danger zone for now, tasting victory in the recently drawn-out copyright lawsuit over one of its iconic franchises. But with the prospective appeal by the plaintiffs, Top Gun’s legal battles aren’t over just yet.

Megan Dianehttps://www.projectcasting.com
Hi, I'm Megan Browne, the Head of Partnerships at Project Casting - a job board for the entertainment industry. As Head of Partnerships, I help businesses find the best talent for their influencer campaigns, photo shoots, and film productions. Creating these partnerships has enabled me to help businesses scale and reach their true potential. I'm excited to continue driving growth by connecting people with projects they're passionate about.


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