Paramount is out of the danger zone after they win the Top Gun copyright lawsuit

The family of the author who wrote the original 1983 article that inspired Top Gun attempted to secure the copyright, but it would not be a strong enough case for the court.

top gun, paramount

Top Gun was a major banner film in 1986. It catapulted Tom Cruise into the stratosphere of film stardom. Tony Scott became the go-to director for a lot of action films. The film would also make a star out of Maverick’s rival-turned-wingman, Val Kilmer. Also Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson became a huge powerhouse producing team in Hollywood. Paramount had an enormous hit on their hands, but this property didn’t actually become a franchise until 2022, when after careful planning and a treatment of love, they finally gave audiences the follow-up Top Gun: Maverick, which became a massive hit at the box office.

The story of Top Gun dates back to a magazine article from May 1983 from California Magazine. The article was titled Top Guns (which sounds like the title of an upcoming sequel in the franchise), and it was written by the late author Ehud Yonay. Yonay’s family, Shosh and Yuval Yonay, would file a lawsuit claiming the original film infringed on copyright as the blockbuster would sport many elements that were taken from the article. However, The Hollywood Reporter has now revealed that U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson has dismissed the case, citing “that several elements from the film — including plot, theme, setting and dialogue — are ‘largely dissimilar’ from Ehud Yonay’s article. And to the extent both works revolve around a fighter pilot training school, the court concluded that any overlapping factual similarities aren’t protected by copyright law.”

The court says the decision of dismissal in this case is based on the “unprotectable factual similarities” between the article and film. The order states, “Although the plots of both the Article and Sequel feature Top Gun and various graduates and instructors, Top Gun is a real fighter pilot school and the graduates and instructors mentioned in the Article are real people (i.e., Yogi and Possum). Those factual elements are not protected by copyright law.” However, Marc Toberoff, representative of the plaintiffs, states this dismissal will be appealed, “Once Yonay’s widow and son exercised their rights under the Copyright Act to reclaim his exhilarating Story, Paramount hand-waved them away exclaiming ‘What copyright?’ It’s not a good look.”

Source: THR

About the Author

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E.J. is a News Editor at JoBlo, as well as a Video Editor, Writer, and Narrator for some of the movie retrospectives on our JoBlo Originals YouTube channel, including Reel Action, Revisited and some of the Top 10 lists. He is a graduate of the film program at Missouri Western State University with concentrations in performance, writing, editing and directing.