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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Gravity in plagiarism row: other copycats of Hollywood

Serena Menon, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, May 03, 2014
First Published: 10:56 IST(3/5/2014) | Last Updated: 11:13 IST(3/5/2014)

The Hindi film industry isn’t the only one that makes news for plagiarising content. Apparently, Hollywood does it too. “The only ‘ism’ Hollywood believes in is plagiarism.” This famous quote by American writer Dorothy Parker seems apt for these cases .

At times, the claims seem just like publicity stunts and, at others, you never hear what eventually happened. The multiple-Oscar-winning film, Gravity, is the latest to have been involved in a plagiarism row — reports revealed earlier this week that author Tess Gerritsen has sued the film’s banner for $10 million, claiming the studio based the story of their blockbuster on her novel by the same name and didn’t give her credit for it.



While Gerritsen hopes for a trial, here’s a look at some other similar reported cases that have made news in the past.

Shia LaBeouf
In December last year, the actor went on a guilty, maniacal apologising spree after he was accused of lifting the plot of his 2012 short, HowardCantour.com, from graphic novelist Daniel Clowes’s work. He made a public spectacle of himself and his apologies. Later, another report revealed that his behaviour was apparently “part of a piece of performance art”.

James Franco
The actor made news for an alleged copyright infringement recently. He is reportedly being sued for violating the film rights of Charles Bukowski’s novel, Ham On Rye, in April 2014. According to the lawsuit, Franco had an agreement to develop the book, but the rights expired in 2010, and his Bukowski film still treads on the novel.

Tom Cruise
He was apparently sued by a screenwriter called Timothy Patrick McLanahan for $1 billion, claiming that the script of the 2011 movie Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol was based on a screenplay he wrote for a (unreleased) film called Head On. Cruise’s lawyer dismissed the “bizarre” claim.

Others who were accused of plagiarism.


James Cameron
The film-maker was apparently threatened by Harlan Ellison, who is a prolific writer, for taking inspiration from his stories for The Terminator (1984). According to jamescamerononline.com, “Ellison’s complaint was never formally filed as a lawsuit, so all the negotiations and the settlement were done entirely out of court.”

In 2010, Emil Malak made headlines for filing a copyright infringement case against film-maker Cameron for Avatar (2009). The plaintiff claimed that the sci-fi film had “similarities” with his screenplay titled, Terra Incognita. On March 20, the lawsuit was dismissed by the court.   

Quentin Tarantino
His Reservoir Dogs (1992) was found by many to be strikingly similar to Hong Kong director Ringo Lam’s City On Fire (1987). While many of his fans lambasted Tarantino for plagiarism, there were others that insisted he was merely paying homage. There was no lawsuit reported.

Sylvester Stallone
The actor was sued by former boxer Chuck Wepner for not compensating him for using his story as inspiration for the super-hit Rocky franchise. Apparently, the actor was inspired after he saw a match between Wepner and Muhammad Ali in 1975. In 2006, another report revealed that the two had settled for “undisclosed terms”.

Stallone’s name emerged in another alleged plagiarism case in 2011. He was accused of copyright infringement by writer Marcus Webb, who felt The Expendables (2010) was “strikingly similar” to his script, The Cordoba Caper. However, in 2014, the court ruled in favour of Stallone, saying Webb’s work wasn’t “substantially similar”.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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