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Paramount Pictures sued over Top Gun copyright

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Actor Tom Cruise arrives at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in London. Photo: Henry Nicholls

Actor Tom Cruise arrives at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in London. Photo: Henry Nicholls

Actor Tom Cruise arrives at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick in London. Photo: Henry Nicholls

The family of the author whose article inspired the 1986 Tom Cruise movie Top Gun yesterday sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement over this year’s blockbuster sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, the Paramount Global unit failed to reacquire the rights to Ehud Yonay’s 1983 article Top Guns from the family before releasing the “derivative” sequel.

The lawsuit by Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, who live in Israel and are respectively Mr Ehud’s widow and son, seeks unspecified damages, including profits from Top Gun: Maverick, and to block distribution of the movie or further sequels.

Paramount said in a statement: “These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Top Gun: Maverick is this year’s biggest box office hit, generating $291m (€272m) in North America and $548.6m (€512m) globally in its first 10 days of release.

The high-flying action film directed by Joseph Kosinski has received strong reviews, and has Cruise reprising his role as US Navy test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

It is already Cruise’s highest-grossing film domestically, surpassing 2005’s War of the Worlds.

According to yesterday’s lawsuit, Paramount obtained exclusive movie rights to Top Guns, published in the May 1983 issue of California Magazine, before making the 1986 original, and even gave credit.

But the Yonays said Paramount deliberately ignored how the copyright reverted to them in January 2020, “thumbing its nose” at federal copyright law.

They said they sent Paramount a cease-and-desist letter on May 11, and that in response Paramount denied that the sequel derived from the 1983 article. They said Paramount also argued that the sequel was “sufficiently completed” by the time the copyright reverted.

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