James Cameron Didn’t Copy Look of “Avatar” from Artist

September 19th, 2014 by

Another lawsuit against James Cameron bites the dust.  James Cameron and Twentieth Century Fox have been hit with a ton of copyright infringement lawsuits over the highest grossing movie of all time and this one by artist and painter William Roger Dean was dismissed by the judge.

It seems that everyone wants to take credit for Pandora and Cameron’s mystical world as this is the fourth lawsuit Cameron has faced over the movie in the past year. On June 27, 2013, artist and painter William Roger Dean filed suit in the Southern District of New York for copyright infringement and various other related claims. For decades, Dean has enjoyed success with his fantasy works, which have been featured globally. In addition, Dean has been working on creating a movie based on his work for quite some time.


In his complaint, Dean asserts that the similarities between Avatar and his own work are so substantial that they can’t possibly have happened by coincidence, further asserting that the Avatar creators must have used his images. Dean refers to specific examples of commonalities between the two works, including the general Pandora realm and the plant life and different creatures living in it.


As predicted by this blog, we thought this was an uphill battle and it was for Dean. The court found most of the elements, included the ones included in this article are not protectable. The court held “Plaintiff does not have a monopoly on the idea of floating or airborne land, an idea that has been around since at least 1726, when Jonathan Swift published his classic ‘Gulliver’s Travels'” Ouch.  The judge found any other similarities were superficial and did not rise to the level of infringement.

Dean’s request for $50 million in damages was denied and as the victor in the copyright case, Cameron can now request the award of his reasonable attorneys’ fees from Dean.



Posted in Copyrights, Film / Television

Robin Thicke’s Codefendant in Copyright Case: Drugs and Booze

September 17th, 2014 by

Robin Thicke has a unique defense to claims of copyright infringement over his mega-hit “Blurred Lines”: he was high on drugs and alcohol during the creative process.

In August 2013, Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. preemptively sued the estate of Marvin Gaye and Gaye fired back with a lawsuit of its own over the song “Blurred Lines”.  Specifically, the Gayes assert that “Blurred Lines” “sounds” and “feels” just like Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”. However, plaintiffs deny copying those songs when creating their smash hit. During interviews Thicke claimed that in creating “Blurred Lines” they were inspired by the sound of a certain era and by Marvin Gaye.

Well, during a deposition that occurred in April and was just released this week, Thicke now claims that he was “high on Vicodin and alcohol” while recording and promoting “Blurred Lines'” and accidentally exaggerated his creative role and Gaye’s influence on the process. Thicke claims that Pharrell Williams actually did most of the creative work on the song.

Thicke’s motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case is currently pending.  No claims have yet to be asserted against alcohol and Vicodin…or the goat…for their role in the alleged copyright infringement.





Posted in Copyrights, Music

New Zombie Show “Z Nation” a Piracy Hit

September 16th, 2014 by

Syfy’s new zombie show is already a hit…with pirates. Z Nation was a leader in global piracy this past weekend within 24 hours of its United States television debut.

Z Nation is a Syfy television show that tells the story of a people trying to survive the zombie apocalypse….akin to The Walking Dead. The show premiered in the United States to not much fanfare but withing 24 hours of the premiere, it is reported that approximately 300,000 unique IP addresses viewed the show. While this is not Game of Thrones numbers (which reportedly reached 1 million in a similar time frame), the show has outpaced such hits as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

Piracy levels have not always equated to popularity of a show or movie. While popular shows like Game of Thrones are highly pirated, the movie The Expendables 3 was a big hit with pirates but the movie bombed. You can read more about the Expendables fight with piracy here. So time will tell if Z Nation will be a hit or just rot away.





Posted in Copyrights, Film / Television

Iggy Azalea Asserts Trademark Rights in Supposedly Non-Existent Sex Tape

September 15th, 2014 by

Not sure what Iggy Pop would have to say about this? While denying that she even has a sex tape, Iggy Azalea is looking to stop distribution of the clip claiming that her name, IGGY, is trademark protected.

This story seems a bit strange but here we go. The adult movie company, Vivid Entertainment, claims to have a sex tape featuring singer Iggy Azalea. In a series of tweets, seen below, Iggy claims that no sex tape exists and calls people distributing it “sex offenders”. However, her lawyers then sent Vivid a cease and desist letter claiming that the term IGGY is trademarked and the release of any tape would violate Azalea’s trademark rights.

If there is a tape, Azalea attempt to block distribution of the steamy film of trademark use might be defeated by Vivid’s reliance on fair use to the celebrity’s name. But according to Azalea, we should ignore her lawyers’ cease and desist letter because there isn’t a tape anyway. The truth is somewhere out there.





Posted in Internet, Music, Trademarks

Trial Looks to Slay “Dungeons & Dragons” Film Dispute

September 12th, 2014 by

dndThe Dungeon Master would not be happy about this one. This matter has been going back and forth for a while and now it’s time to resolve this dispute without rolling the dice. Next week, a trial between Hasbro and a film production company goes to trial about the ownership to the movie rights of Dungeons & Dragons.

This tale started in May 13, 2013 when Hasbro Inc. filed a lawsuit against production company Sweetpea Entertainment, Inc. on a number of claims including copyright and trademark infringement. The suit was initiated as a result of Sweetpea taking significant steps with Warner Bros. Pictures to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. Hasbro’s main contention is that any rights Sweetpea once had to create a sequel to their first Dungeons & Dragons movie reverted back to Hasbro as a result of an agreement between the two companies. Hasbro is planning its own movie with Universal.

In 1994, Hasbro and Sweetpea entered into a licensing agreement which was subsequently amended twice in 1998. Pursuant to the agreement, Sweetpea would make the first Dungeons & Dragons movie with the right to make a sequel. The agreement separately gave Sweetpea the same rights in a television series or made-for-TV movie. However, as amended, the agreement included a reversion provision through which Sweetpea’s rights would revert back to Hasbro under certain conditions. If Sweetpea did not release a sequel within five years of the first movie’s release, the rights to make such a sequel would revert back to Hasbro. Likewise, if Sweetpea did not release any television series or made-for-TV movies within five years of the date the first one was broadcasted, the rights to make a television series or made-for-TV movie would revert back to Hasbro.

Following the release of the first Dungeons & Dragons movie in December 2000, Sweetpea subsequently made two TV movies, the first in October 2005 that appeared on the Syfy Channel. As a result, Hasbro contends that Sweetpea’s sequel rights reverted back to Hasbro in December 2005, five years after the first movie’s release. They also claim that Sweetpea knew their October 2005 production extended their television rights and not their sequel rights as the licensing fee paid to Hasbro to make it was much lower than it would have been to make a movie sequel.

Sweetpea responded to the suit with a counterclaim arguing that it still retained rights to the movie and that Hasbro couldn’t license Universal to make their Dungeons & Dragons film.

Now the court will decide who is the winner and whether we get a Dungeons & Dragons film from Universal or Warner Bros.



Posted in Comics, Copyrights, Film / Television, Gaming, Trademarks

© Copyright 2013-2014, Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP. All Rights Reserved.
Attorney Advertising

This blog is provided as general information for clients and friends of Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP. Content does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. The contents of this blog may be considered attorney advertising in some states.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gibney, Anthony & Flaherty, LLP.