Film Score Monthly
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 Posted:   Apr 12, 2014 - 5:58 PM   
 By:   johnjohnson   (Member)

MGM and James Bond producers Danjaq have filed a copyright infringement suit against NBCUniversal claiming that the studio’s “Section 6? feature project is a rip off of the lucrative 007 franchise.

The suit, filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, also names screenwriter Aaron Berg.

“This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain,” the suit states.

“Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not. This lawsuit is instead about a James Bond knockoff that defendant Universal is readying for production, based on a screenplay that defendant Berg wrote.”

The suit claims that the project, which is directed by Joe Cornish (“Attack the Block”) and stars Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”), “misappropriates from the James Bond works far beyond the signature aspects of James Bond,” but that it copies “in detail nearly every aspect of the characters, plots dialogue, themes. setting, mood and other key elements of the copyrighted James Bond literary works and motion pictures.”

The courts have been ever-defining the extent to which copyright covers not just to specific projects, but to unique characters. In 1995, the federal court in Los Angeles ruled in favor of MGM in its contention that a Honda commercial violated its copyrights with a commercial that evoked Bond, even though that name was not used.

MGM and U have tangled over the project for several months, the suit states. MGM claims that it learned of the existence of the screenplay and that U had acquired rights to it, and then fired off a letter. U responded that it had not even optioned the project, and that had “no intention” of violating the copyright, MGM’s complaint states.

But last month, reports that U had hired a director, lead actor and four producers for the project triggered MGM’s ire again. MGM asked to see the most recent version of the screenplay, but Universal refused, the complaint states. MGM contends that U’s refusal to provide “concrete exculpatory information” about the latest version of “Section 6? “leads to the conclusion that Universal is continuing to develop a screenplay that constitutes an unauthorized derivative work based upon plaintiffs’ copyrighted James Bond works,” MGM says.

The screenplay for the project states that it is premised on historical facts, the lawsuit states, but MGM and Danjaq claim that the “core elements are fictional.” It also contends that even though U asserted that the project is a historical account of the formation of MI6 immediately after World War I, “the dialog and relationships between the characters are strikingly out of place and years ahead of their time for a story set in 1918.”

The suit contends that “Section 6? “imbue their James Bond knockoff with a ‘license to kill,’ employment by “Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” and a 00 agent number. All are creations of Ian Fleming, MGM argues.

MGM and Danjaq are seeking an injunction to prevent Universal from what they claim is an infringement on the Bond works.

A spokeswoman for Universal had no comment.

 Posted:   Apr 12, 2014 - 6:03 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

If it's a parody, it'll get a free pass under law. If it's "straight", well, someone is gonna get paid a whoooooole lot of money before it even starts filming.

 Posted:   Apr 12, 2014 - 6:09 PM   
 By:   johnjohnson   (Member)

Anyone remember Reilly, Ace of Spies? lol

 Posted:   Apr 13, 2014 - 8:16 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

big grin

 Posted:   Apr 13, 2014 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I don't know enough about this production. Is it straight up serious? If so sounds like massive copyright infringement. If it's a comedy that falls under parody and is completely legal.

 Posted:   Apr 14, 2014 - 4:26 AM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

It sounds pretty stupid. Why would anyone want to steal material that's practically been beaten to death by its legal owners? If you want to make a movie, it seems like you could get more mileage (and audience respect) by filming literally anything else.

This is not to say I won't go to the next actual James Bond movie, but JB knockoffs have been a tired idea for decades.

 Posted:   Apr 14, 2014 - 4:46 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

There must be a hundred European-made Bond imitations in the 1960s that used the iconography. I've seen spy films from the 1930s in which suave spies dressed in tuxedos, drank champagne and romanced frisky / deceitful / glamorous women. If the Bond producers didn't sue over SPY HARD and AUSTIN POWERS and JOHNNY ENGLISH, why are they suing now?

Further, it is a fact that the British government recruited spies from the upper-class when they were forming their first spy agency. Only affluent young men of good breeding who were well-educated could be trusted with the British Empire's secrets. The Edwardian era was a time when gentlemen of refinement dressed for dinner, when evening wear meant tuxedos. Look at photographs of the period. If Universal is dressing their film according to the period and using words and phrases of the period that were implemented, if not inherited, by the Fleming brothers -- Peter was a spy and a writer before Ian -- then they're just being accurate to history.

Hasn't Danjaq read W. Somerset Maugham's Ashenden: or, The British Agent, published in 1928? Ian Fleming stepped into a literary tradition that he made his own, but he did not invent it. Or hasn't Danjaq read one of the 300 Nick Carter spy novels? or many hundreds of spy novels that used the iconography of 007 films to some degree? Even if Danjaq's accusations were true, since they allowed imitations and knock-offs to thrive for 50 years, they can't sue now.

Danjaq has no case.

Universal, I'll defend this one pro-bono if you'll fund my next low-budget indy.

You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2018 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.