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Paramount sued over alleged Top Gun copyright breach

Paramount is being sued over an alleged copyright breach pertaining to the source material of Top Gun and the production of Maverick

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

It appears Paramount’s need for speed may have been too strong. The studio is being sued for copyright infringement associated with action movie blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick, in which it’s alleged that Paramount ignored a request for termination by the rights holders.

The original Top Gun was based on an article titled ‘Top Guns’ by writer Ehud Yonay, published in California magazine in May 1983. Yonay’s piece cover naval fighter pilots living in San Diego, with aerial photography of their planes in motion. Per The Independent, Shosh and Yuval Yonay, the heirs of Ehud, wished to take back the rights to said report using a provision in US copyright law that allowed for such things after a period of time, commonly 35 years.

In a lawsuit filed in California, Shosh and Yuval claim they took back the rights to Ehud’s work in 2020, and allege that they sent Paramount a notice of termination that was deliberately ignored. A cease-and-desist letter is said to have been sent to the studio on May 11, two weeks before Top Gun: Maverick’s general release.

“This case arises out of Paramount’s conscious failure to re-acquire the requisite film and ancillary rights to the Yonays’ copyrighted Story prior to the completion and release of their derivative 2022 sequel,” Marc Toberoff and Alex Kozinski, legal representatives for the Yonays, state.

Paramount is alleged to have posited that Top Gun: Maverick isn’t based on Yonay’s work. The company counters that the film was “sufficiently completed” by the time the termination was received. In a statement, the studio adds: “these claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously”.