films 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement  

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From Avatar to The Deer Hunter, there are lots of Hollywood films that found themselves in court, being sued for copyright infringement. In fact, many of the best movies have been slapped with lawsuits, with writers and others claiming that filmmakers stole their ideas. Some of these movie lawsuits had merit and some were bogus, but either way, it definitely wasn't great for the the film's reputation. Which movies have been sued for being ripoffs?

Anyone with a laptop and a nearby Starbucks can be a writer these days and it seems that more and more news stories about directors, producers, writers, and even score composers being sued for infringement are popping up. But was Titanic a ripoff? How about that Frozen lawsuit? Many of these copyright cases are so ridiculous, they would also qualify on a list of the most ridiculous lawsuits in history!

Though copyright cases like those that have plagued The Cabin in the Woods, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and even Indiana Jones don't always have much weight, they bog down the filmmakers in court cases and unwanted media attention.

So which Hollywood blockbuster, animated films, and awesome movie franchise have found themselves needing to lawyer up? Check out the list of movies sued for copyright infringement below and head over to the comments section to let us know which of the lawsuits brought against top films were the silliest.
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement
Photo:  uploaded by Matthew Cole Weiss

The Matrix franchise has been sued not once, but twice, for copyright infringement. The first suit came from a woman named Sophie Stewart who claimed the Wachowskis stole her screen treatment called The Third Eye. and that she was defrauded of over $200 million dollars. She also claimed that The Terminator was based on her treatment.   

Stewart claimed she responded to an ad the Wachowskis posted in 1986 looking for sci-fi stories. Though she did receive over $300,000 dollars in attorney fees, apparently Stewart never showed up for her court date and the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.  

Warner Brothers was also sued by author Thomas Althouse who claimed The Matrix ripped off his own script, The Immortals, which he submitted to the studio in 1993. Althouse claimed his references to Christ were similar to those in The Matrix, but ultimately, a judge tossed out the case ruling that there were no similarities whatsoever in the projects.   

Source: TIME

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Actors: Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne Gloria Foster, + more

Initial Release: 1999

Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Also Ranked

#50 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#5 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#46 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#41 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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The Cabin in the Woods is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement
Photo:  uploaded by Matthew Cole Weiss

In April 2015, a man named Peter Gallagher sued Lionsgate, Joss Whedeon, and The Cabin in the Woods director Drew Gooddard, saying they stole the idea for the film from his 2006 novel The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines. Gallagher reportedly wants $10 million in damages. The case is still unfolding.

Source: CNN

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Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker, Jesse Williams Richard Jenkins, + more

Initial Release: 2012

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Also Ranked

#23 on The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins

#53 on The Greatest Horror Films of All Time

#72 on The Best Classic Horror Movies

#6 on The Funniest Horror Movies

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Avatar is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement
Photo:  uploaded by Matthew Cole Weiss

Roger Dean, an artist who designed cover artwork for bands including Yes, Asia, and Uriah Heep, filed suit against James Cameron claiming that his own fantasy artwork was plagiarized in Avatar, asking for $50 million dollars in damages. Ultimately, the court found no basis for the claim and tossed it out.   

But that wasn't the only lawsuit filed. In fact, there were at least four more. Eric Ryder claimed that Cameron stole his ideas, but the judge disagreed. Ryder tried to get the judge removed, to no avail.   

Cameron also won a $2.5 billion dollar suit from sci-fi writer Bryant Moore who claimed the film infringed on his copyright. He lost. Writer and restauranteur Emil Malak said his script Terra Incognita was so similar that he wanted profits. He lost. Gerald Morawski claimed he had pitched Cameron a similar concept years prior. He lost. Screenwriter Elijah Schkeiban said Cameron used his novel Bats and Butterflies to make Avatar. He lost as well.  

Score five for James Cameron.   

Source: Deadline

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Actors: Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Sam Worthington Giovanni Ribisi, + more

Initial Release: 2009

Directed by: James Cameron

Also Ranked

#31 on The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

#43 on The Best Fantasy Movies

#84 on The Greatest Action Movies of All Time

#25 on The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement
Photo:  uploaded by Matthew Cole Weiss

Disney was sued for billions of dollars over their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Supernatural author Royce Mathew went to court twice against the filmmakers saying they stole his ideas. After the first film, he took out an ad in Variety, searching for representation against Disney. His lawsuit was thrown out after Disney presented a book about the making of the movie from the theme ride.

Mathew sued again in 2013 with a different attorney, again claiming that the filmmakers stole his original artwork and ideas for their Pirates franchise. His case is still pending. 

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Actors: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Bloom Geoffrey Rush, + more

Initial Release: 2003

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Also Ranked

#21 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#37 on The Best Movies on Netflix Instant

#29 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#26 on The Best Fantasy Movies

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Video: YouTube
French children's author Franck Le Calvez sued Disney and Pixar in 2003 saying that his 1995 children's book, Pierrot Le Poisson Clown, was the basis for Finding Nemo. Le Calvez lost his suit when it was proven that Finding Nemo came out before his book was written and he was the one who stole the idea, from Nemo.

Le Calvez was convicted of fraud and had to pay damages in return. Talk about a backfire.  
Source: Today

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Actors: Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe, Eric Bana, Allison Janney Albert Brooks, + more

Initial Release: 2003

Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich

Also Ranked

#43 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#4 on The Best Animated Films Ever

#1 on The Best Oscar-Winning Animated Films

#92 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

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Video: YouTube
Jake Mandeville-Anthony, a UK based screenwriter, sued the Walt Disney Company claiming that their films Cars and Cars 2 were ripoffs of his screenplay Cookie & Co., about real life racecar driver Michael Owen Perkins. Mandeville claimed he had sent copies of that screenplay, along with sketches and marketing plans, to Disney and had even met with someone at Lucasfilm (who eventually went to Pixar) about the project over 20 years prior. 

Mandeville claimed there were character names that were the same in both projects, as well as makes and models of cars. However, a judge found the works too dissimilar and tossed out the case because the statute of limitations had expired.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Actors: Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal, Sheryl Crow, Paul Newman John Goodman, + more

Initial Release: 2006

Directed by: John Lasseter, Joe Ranft

Also Ranked

#53 on The Best Animated Films Ever

#7 on The Best Car Movies

#44 on The Best Movies for Kids

#11 on The Best Racing Movies

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Titanic is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 21 Films Accused of Copyright Infringement
Photo: Freebase/Fair use

Princess Samantha Kennedy (yes, that's her name) sued Paramount for copyright infringement in 2012, claiming that Titanic had ripped off her yet unpublished biography about her father. The suit was dismissed as the court said that any similarities were "scenes a faire." Kennedy claimed specifically that Leonardo DiCaprio's character, who slicks back his hair with spit, was directly connected to Kennedy's character which "slicked back his greasy hair."

Kennedy believed she was entitled to every cent the film made, and she demanded that all copies of the film be destroyed.

The case was ultimately dismissed, partly because Kennedy had also unsuccessfully sued Forrest Gump.

Source: Huffington Post

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Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, James Cameron Bill Paxton, + more

Initial Release: 1997

Directed by: James Cameron

Also Ranked

#5 on The Best Movies "Loosely" Based on True Stories

#25 on The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies

#19 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#67 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

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Ted


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Video: YouTube
Bengal Mangle Productions sued Seth MacFarlane, Universal, and Media Rights Capital claiming the film Ted stole their idea, about a cursing teddy bear named Charlie who also slept with prostitutes and drank. Charlie had been featured in YouTube videos since 2009. However, they eventually withdrew their lawsuit believing that MacFarlane had sufficiently proved that he created Ted on his own.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Actors: Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, Ryan Reynolds, Laura Vandervoort Patrick Stewart, + more

Initial Release: 2012

Directed by: Seth MacFarlane

Also Ranked

#56 on The Most Awkward Movies to Watch with Your Parents

#94 on The Absolute Most Hilarious Movies Ever Made

#27 on The Best Bromance Movies

#14 on The Best Movies to Watch While Stoned

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