Paramount Points to Major Real-Life Detail as Reason ‘Top Gun’ Lawsuit Should Fail

by Tia Bailey
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It was recently revealed that a lawsuit was opened against Paramount for the new film Top Gun: Maverick. The company has moved to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the film is fact, therefore not protected by copyright laws. 

Top Gun: Maverick, which stars Tom Cruise and Miles Teller, is the sequel to the 1986 film Top Gun. “After more than 30 years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Training a detachment of graduates for a special assignment, Maverick must confront the ghosts of his past and his deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who choose to fly it,” says the movie synopsis. Audiences loved the film, and it was a hit.

A mother and son hit Paramount with a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Shosh and Yuval Yonay. The pair are the widow and son of the writer whose article inspired the first “Top Gun” film, Ehud Yonay. The article served as the source material for Top Gun, and Paramount had secured the rights to the article prior to making the first film. 

The Yonays are arguing that since Paramount did not renew the rights, they were in the wrong. 

Now, Paramount has said that since the article was non-fiction, that they did not need to secure the rights. 

‘Top Gun’ Lawsuit Against Paramount May Not Stand

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio said that the article has no resemblance to 2022’s Top Gun: Maverick, “narrative action movie about a fictional veteran pilot, Maverick, who returns to Top Gun to train graduates — including one who blames Maverick for his father’s death — for an attack on an enemy installation,” other than the real-life Navy program they both revolve around. 

Molly Lens, the attorney representing Paramount, stated that facts, ideas, and common tropes aren’t protectable. 

“When the Court reviews the article and Maverick, as opposed to Plaintiffs’ irrelevant and misleading purported comparison of the works, it is clear as a matter of law that Maverick does not borrow any of the article’s protected expression,” she wrote. “To the contrary, any similarity between these vastly different works derives from the fact that Top Gun is an actual naval training facility. Plaintiffs do not have a monopoly over works about Top Gun.”

The introduction to the lawsuit reads: “Plaintiffs claim that Paramount Pictures’ 2022 blockbuster movie Top Gun: Maverick (“Maverick“) infringes their copyright in a 1983 magazine article. However, that article — which Plaintiffs tellingly do not attach to the complaint — is a non-fiction piece on the Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as “Top Gun.” Maverick, in contrast, is a narrative action movie about a fictional veteran pilot, Maverick, who returns to Top Gun to train graduates — including one who blames Maverick for his father’s death — for an attack on an enemy installation.”

Some legal experts have spoken about the case, some saying that Paramount is “seemingly streamrolling the little guy.” 

Outsider.com