Paramount seeks to dismiss Top Gun: Maverick copyright lawsuit

Paramount on Friday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that “Top Gun: Maverick” infringes the copyright of the 1983 magazine article that was the source material for the original film.

Shosh and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of writer Ehud Yonay, filed the lawsuit in June, arguing that the studio made the sequel without first renewing the rights to the article.

In the dismissal motion, Paramount argued that it did not need to seek the rights because “Top Gun: Maverick” is a work of fiction that bears little resemblance to the non-fiction article and that conveys facts and ideas and the article cannot be copyrighted.

“(Any) resemblance between these vastly different works stems from the fact that Top Gun is actually a Navy training facility,” argue the studio’s attorneys. “Plaintiffs do not have a monopoly on works about Top Gun.”

Paramount secured the film rights to Yonay’s article for the original Top Gun, released in 1986. Copyright law allows authors to reclaim their works after 35 years. Yonay died in 2012, but his widow and son filed a notice in 2018 terminating the studio’s copyright on the article.

The lawsuit struggles to document numerous alleged similarities between the article and the sequel. The complaint also argues that Yonay used “vivid and cinematic” language to enliven what might otherwise have been a mere rendition of facts.

Paramount, in turn, emphasizes the differences between the two works. The studio’s motion also argues that certain similarities are simply everyday elements that no one can claim.

“(E)lite fighter pilots who love to fly and are dedicated to their craft and are competitive are facts described in the article,” reads the motion. “Plaintiffs do not have a monopoly on these (unremarkable) facts just because Yonay reported them once.”

The Yonays have asked for an injunction that would prevent Paramount from profiting from the film, which grossed $1.4 billion worldwide. Paramount argues that they have no chance of enforcing their infringement claim and therefore the injunction should be denied.

A hearing is scheduled for September 26. Paramount seeks to dismiss Top Gun: Maverick copyright lawsuit

Charles Jones

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