Director James Cameron has released dozens of movies in his lifetime that have gone on to reach considerable success. When Cameron released "Avatar" in 2009, it was no different. According to a 2010 Huffington Post article, "Avatar" grossed nearly $73 million in its opening weekend, making it the No. 1 movie in the nation.
While a majority of people across the nation saw the movie as a stunning example of how far computer graphics have come in the last 20 years, some saw substantial similarities between their own creative works and the one they were seeing on the silver screen. Unfortunately for them, they did not recall having been asked if their ideas could be used in the film, which led to at least five civil lawsuits against Cameron.
All of the cases contained some claim of intellectual property rights and the accusation that Cameron had violated them. While three of the claims accused Cameron of plagiarizing the storyline for "Avatar" from scripts presented from three separate screenwriters, one claim accused Cameron of stealing elements of his artwork to use in the movie.
As you may already know, the litigation has taken awhile to wrap up, finally ending this month when a federal judge dismissed the artist's claims of infringement upon his artwork. According to the judge, while there were similarities between the alien world depicted in the movie and some elements of the artist's works, the elements have all been used before in other works in the past.
The plaintiff also erred when he presented post-film artwork books and Internet discussions he claims show the similarities between his works and Cameron's. The judge disagreed, however, pointing out that the evidence was not part of the claim.
This marks the fifth case that Cameron has won in his battle to prove his intellectual property rights. With the promise of three more "Avatar" movies down the road though, the hope is that he will not have to face further litigation.
Sources: Courthouse News Service, "Artist Loses 'Avatar' Copyright Complaint," Nick McCann, Spet. 18, 2014
Variety, "James Cameron Prevails In Another ‘Avatar’ Lawsuit," Dave McNary, March 20, 2014