is nothing new or original, with the story is well and truly out of
copyright, and has been adapted and altered so many times as a folklore
theme, that it cannot be taken as being live plagiarism, pertaining to the
work of Mary Shelley, any more than dramatizing the life of Robin Hood, or
any other historical, fictional character. In such a case, new works might
be described as inspired by Mary Shelley. Introducing another fictional
character as the lead scientist, in the quest to clone a 2,000 year old
mummy, is an inspired work based on an original concept.
protection, as per the Berne
Convention, is excellent for writers and artists who benefit from
automatic rights. But, trade mark registration
adds another layer of IP for investors looking to stave off imitation. Where
the film world is perennially short of original stories, and in Hollywood, the home of
many of the best movies in the world, truly original ideas are sometimes a
bit thin on the
ground. It is inevitable that both accidental and contrived plagiarism will
occur, as developers seek ways to include ideas they have seen elsewhere, such
as not to be identified as unethical.
Many filmmakers plagiarize content from others, but try to
lessen the potential for plagiarism cases by terming the similarity as an
inspiration; inspired by. We are all inspired by what we read and see, and
there is nothing wrong with that, but
be careful that your inspiration is not blatant imitation. There needs to be
a significant conceptual advance to argue that with success in the courts.
Many films have committed plagiarism using a variety of different sources,
often termed "Patchwork or Mosaic Plagiarism."
In the case of films, pinpointing the source material is not always easy. 'Mosaic plagiarism' is
present in films where copied scenes get blended with other scenes. Writers also utilize the same kind of
'Patchwork plagiarism' for writing the screenplay, composing the background score, songs, and more.
To the point where a new film is almost a remake, or shuffle of the packs of
cards, of another artists work. The term "Artist," includes
directors, producers and writers.
In the case of an unpublished work, it becomes harder to prove copyright infringement. Hence, in many ways, plagiarism in movies
becomes regularized. Suggesting to us that material should be published as soon as practical, to preserve the status
quo, and give the originator more chance of not being copied. Publishing
should be in a way, that the ordinary person in the street would be unable
to avoid it, in the normal course of surfing the web, or reading a
That does not imply that blatant plagiarists can get away with it. Simply put, nobody can use copyrighted works for any commercial purpose without the author’s written permission. Authors of unpublished works can also cite similarities and sue the
filmmaker against the basic concept in a picture.
Committing plagiarism is unethical. A morally upright citizen will not try to steal another person’s credit by plagiarizing his/her work. However, in unintentional plagiarism, out-of-court settlements between the filmmaker and the author often leads to a satisfactory conclusion.
Unintentional copying is where a writer would not, or could not have seen
the original work, but came up with an idea all by themselves in seclusion.
Avoiding plagiarism is a high priority, but in the film industry, copyright infringement has become widespread. For this reason, reporting copyright infringement is necessary so that filmmakers’ propensity to plagiarize content is effectively curbed. By this means, the original content of new authors is better protected.
PRESENT DAY ONLINE PLATFORMS
Due to technological advancement, search engines and AI, there is more chance of identifying plagiarists.
Online platforms (social media) provide information sharing rapidly, leading to plagiarism in films being detected relatively easily by viewers, and such information may be shared swiftly. In many cases, it is the viewers who have raised the alarm regarding plagiarism in a movie.
The people whose work has been plagiarized in films often get to know about the
imitation of their work from viewers and critics.
learning of the plagiarism, the original author has the option to file a lawsuit against the film-makers for plagiarizing his/her work. The author can claim compensation for copyright infringement (theft).
The first step is to contact the film makers, who in some cases, try to make
it difficult to track them down - and serve documents. Hence, a company that
is not transparent, is one that writers should be wary of.
WELL REPORTED EXAMPLES OF PLAGIARISM
This plagiarism case is a benchmark. The director of the film, James
Cameron, is not new to lawsuits regarding plagiarism in his films. However, in most cases, the lawsuits never progressed further.
When The Terminator came out in 1984, the first movie of the series followed a nuclear war story between human beings and the machines. Harlan Ellison brought the case of plagiarism against this movie. He argued that the film’s opening scene was stolen from the series “The outer limits” written by him.
As an American Science Fiction writer, he had written numerous stories that showed a post-apocalyptic world. The episodes that bore similarity with
Terminator’ are “Soldier” and “Demon with a Glass Hand.”
There was no lawsuit in this case because Orion pictures opted to settle with Harlan Ellison. Apart from an out-of-court financial settlement, Ellison had his credit in the movie.
A recent plagiarism case was for The Martian. Russian screenwriter Mikhail Raskhodnikov claimed a suit against
Fox for ripping off his script Marsianin (The Martian) back in 2008. The Russian screen writer demanded $761,700 us dollars to be paid for damages. He stated that he sent his screenplay to fox and was rejected but coincidentally fox releases an identical film with the same name.
Initially released in the Cannes festival Shia LaBeouf’s Howarcantour.com was praised, but it wasn’t until its online premiere in 2013 when Ghost world creator, Daniel Clowes called him out for plagiarizing his short comic. After being criticized constantly by the media he came out and apologized.
Another classic is Ridley Scott’s Alien. Screenwriter Dan O’Bannion happened to draw heavily from A.E Van Vogt’s sci-fi short story called The Black Destroyer. The story talks about an alien life form that found its way in a small space ship and stalks the crew. Even its sequel was about an alien taking a human as its host and incubating it with its eggs.
A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS
A western classic with an amazing performance from Clint Eastwood, but yet like many of the Hollywood movies is in fact a fraud. A fistful of dollars is a plagiarized version of Akira Kuraswa’s
'Yojimbo.' With shot for shot scenes director Sergio Leone was sued by Kurasawa for $100 000 and 15 percent of the worldwide profits.
For his part, Kurosawa expressed admiration for Leone’s work on A Fistful of Dollars, commenting “[he] made a fine movie, but it was my movie”. Leone disagreed – citing other influences, such as Dashiell Hammett’s novel Red Harvest and the play Servant of Two Masters, by Carlo Goldoni – and initially tried to ignore the lawsuit.
However, the pressure from Toho’s lawyers continued to mount, and Leone finally caved to it. He settled the dispute out of court for a substantial sum of money (for the time), rumored to be over $100,000 plus 15% of A Fistful of Dollars’ world-wide box office haul.
THE HUNGER GAMES
With identical storyline The Hunger Games is a plagiarized version of the Japanese cult classic The Battle Royale. The Japanese version tells of a group of teenagers who are forced by their government to fight to their deaths leaving only one survivor.
You may agree, a complete imitation of The Hunger Games, except a remake in
a post apocalyptic North America. The plot is still identical in concept.
Unfortunately for Matrix fans, this franchise that has its roots in plagiarism. Writer Thomas Althouse sued the Wachowskis for $300 million in damages for stealing his ideas. The franchise borrowed extensive ideas from the
un-produced screenplay The Immortals.
There have been several lawsuits filed against the creators of The Matrix trilogy, alleging that they stole the idea from other writers. However, none of these lawsuits have been successful.
One of the most famous cases was filed by Sophia Stewart, who claimed that she had written a screenplay called “The Third Eye” in 1981, which was the basis for both The Matrix and The Terminator movies. She sued the Wachowski brothers, Warner Bros, and James Cameron for billions of dollars in damages. However, her case was dismissed in 2005, after she failed to show up in court and provide any evidence to support her claims.
[If you are going to make a claim, make sure you have the evidence and
witnesses to back it up]
Another case was filed by Thomas Althouse, who claimed that he had written a screenplay called “The Immortals” in 1993, which was similar to The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. He sued the Wachowski brothers and
Warner Bros for copyright infringement in 2013. However, his case was also dismissed in 2014, after the judge ruled that the two works were too different and that the similarities were either too general or common to be protected.
A third case was filed by Peter F. Paul, who claimed that he had pitched an idea for a virtual reality movie called “Spider-Man” to Stan Lee in 1999, which was later used by the Wachowski brothers for The Matrix. He sued them for fraud and breach of contract in 2003. However, his case was also dismissed in 2005, after the judge found that he had no evidence to prove his allegations.
Therefore, the outcome in the Matrix plagiarism case is that the defendants have won every time and no one has been able to prove that they copied The Matrix from another source. The Matrix trilogy remains an original and influential work of science fiction cinema.
Sylvester Stallone’s debut film was not an original work. Based on the life of boxer Chuck Wepner, Sly was sued for not paying royalties and acknowledging Chuck. Sly admits to writing the script after 2 weeks of watching Chuck fight Ali.
According to web search results, the Rocky plagiarism case was a dispute between Sylvester Stallone, the writer and star of the 1976 film Rocky, and Chuck Wepner, a former boxer who claimed that Stallone had based the film on his life story. Wepner sued Stallone for $15 million in 2003, alleging that he had never received any credit or compensation for inspiring the film. The case was settled out of court in 2006 for an undisclosed amount. Wepner later said that he was satisfied with the settlement and that he had no hard feelings towards Stallone.
COMING TO AMERICA
In 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy vehicle Coming to America, saw Paramount Studios hauled into court by humorist by Art Buchwald over their unauthorized re-use of concepts he devised.
Buchwald was able to support his allegations that Paramount incorporated ideas he pitched to the studio as part of an abandoned earlier project into the screenplay for Coming to America. This turned out to be a violation of the terms of Buchwald’s contract with the studio, and he received a payout – although it was considerably less than he had hoped for, especially once his legal team had taken their cut. Buchwald was awarded $900,000 in damages, plus 19% of the net profits, which amounted to over $17 million
Another case settled out of court, the filmmakers behind obscure 1979 flick Parts: The Clonus Horror objected to similarities between their film and Michael Bay’s 2005 sci-fi thriller The Island. Producers Robert S. Fiveson and Myrl A. Schreibman filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against DreamWorks – although the studio tried in vain to prevent proceedings from making it to the courtroom.
Rather than risk the bad publicity of a trial – and perhaps worried that a court would rule in favor of Fiveson and Schreibman – DreamWorks agreed to settle the case for a hefty fee (think seven figures). It’s also worth mentioning that Michael Marshall Smith has noted a strong resemblance between The Island and his novel Spares, although the author apparently
did not seek compensation (allegedly, owing to the costs involved in hiring legal counsel).
THE DAVICI CODE
In 2006, Dan Brown, the author of “The Da Vinci Code”, was sued by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, the authors of “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail”, for allegedly copying their ideas and themes. The judge ruled in favor of Brown, but the plaintiffs appealed and the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, estimated to be around $15
BOTHER WITH TRADEMARK PROTECTION?
way of protections for investors in Books, Graphic Novels, Films and TV
licensing, the name "CLEOPATRA'S
THE MUMMY REINCARNATE" has been
applied for as a registered trademark in several classes. The same applies
to the trade names: Elizabeth
Storm and Kulo
In addition, the laws of passing off apply.
In the world of film making; plagiarism, is unfortunately all to
prevalent, and requires protection for published and unpublished original works.
the case of the concept of finding and cloning the former queen of Egypt,
the theme could attract copying from the Publishing, Film and Television world, but
need not be so, since, as with the other protections mentioned, it is so much
easier and far less damaging, to simply
An exclusive: Film or TV Rights, Production & Development 'Option,' to
obtain the life story of an individual
An exclusive: Film or TV Rights, Production & Development 'Option,' to
obtain the book, short story, article or screenplay
The concept of Cleopatra
VII’s mummy being discovered and cloned is imaginative and innovative, as it can be developed in different ways and offer new perspectives on the
Egyptian queen and her legacy. For instance, one could explore the ethical, political, and cultural implications of cloning an ancient ruler in the modern world. How would
VII react to the changes in history, technology, and society? How would the world react to her presence and claims? What would be her goals and motivations? What challenges and conflicts would she face? These are some of the questions that would (and will) make a compelling story based on this concept.
$BILLION DOLLAR WHALE - The
Elizabeth Swann stands by as 'Kulo Luna,' the
giant humpback whale leaps for victory, after sinking a second pirate whaling ship.
This is an early adventure for the ocean conservationist: John Storm.
Copyright art, Cleaner Ocean Foundation 2022. Inspired by the true story of
Mocha Dick, a cetacean
that sank many a whaling ship, during the time when the price of oil for
lamps, made hunting these beautiful creatures, a very lucrative venture.
With investors not caring as to inevitable extinction of species, if not
Swann is the ship in which John
Storm undertakes his ocean and climate missions. John is obsessed with his DNA
collection and protecting archaeological artefacts. The Swann is equipped
with a tremendous array of underwater sensors and survey equipment, making
it the number one choice for Blue
proposed adaptations of these present (and future) Cleopatra stories, need not include the
Elizabeth Swann. Though, the Egyptian Queen and her lover, Mark
Antony, were very fond of boats and ships. Hence, the Swann could be
Egyptian-ised in design, being part there already, as Solar Boats were a
part of their beliefs, including the Sun
God: Ra. Without any doubt, the weaponry
onboard the Swann, would be of tremendous interest to the reborn Cleopatra
VII, following her defeat at the Battle
of Actium in 31BCE.