Whereas Top Gun: Maverick continues to fly high at the box office, a film rights lawsuit has just landed at Paramount Pictures.
The family of the man whose magazine article inspired the 1986 film Upper gun is suing Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement.
Shosh and Yuval Yonay – the widow and son of Ehud Yonay – say they exercised their right to reclaim the copyright to the story in 2018 and it took effect in 2020. Paramount has not bought out the rights movie before going out Top Gun: Mavericksay the plaintiffs.
“On January 24, 2020, copyright to the story thus reverted to the Yonays under copyright law, but Paramount deliberately ignored it, thumbing its nose at the law,” said the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Paramount, in a statement to NPR, promised to fight the lawsuit. “These allegations are without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves,” the statement said.
In 1983, California The magazine ran an article by Ehud Yonay titled “Top Guns,” which told the story of the Navy pilots “in a remarkably vivid and cinematic way,” according to the lawsuit. Paramount secured the movie rights to the article weeks later, and the hit film Upper gun came out in 1986.
The Yonays say they chose to reclaim the copyright, which they are allowed to do under the law after 35 years.
Such action would not prevent Paramount from continuing to distribute works created while it owned the copyright, such as Upper gunbut that would require the studio to re-acquire the rights if it wanted to produce any more films based on Yonay’s story after the copyright expires, the family claims.
According to the lawsuit, Paramount responded to a cease and desist letter sent by the Yonays in May denying that Top Gun: Maverick was “obviously derivative” of the Yonay magazine story and arguing that the film was “complete enough” as of January 24, 2020.
The Yonays allege that the work on Top Gun: Maverick did not end until 2021, a year after claiming that the rights to the film no longer belong to Paramount.