Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ninth Circuit Allows "Terminator II" Copyright Infringement Claim to Proceed

The U. S. Ninth Circuit is allowing Filia and Constantinos Kourtis' copyright infringement lawsuit to proceed against James Cameron and other producers of the film Terminator II. The couple claim that their screenplay, The Minotaur, bears a striking resemblance to the  1991 film starring Arnold Schwartzenegger. Defendants had alleged that the Kourtises were collaterally estopped from the suit because another individual, WIlliam Green, had claimed copyright in the Minotaur screenplay, had sued the Terminator producers, and had lost. The Kourtises were not parties to the suit. The Kourtises then brought suit against Green for infringement in Australian, their country of residence, won, and filed suit in the U.S. against Cameron for copyright infringement. Losing at the trial court level, they appealled.

In a detailed analysis the court examined whether the Kourtises should have participated in the original litigation against Cameron. It found ultimately that "[t]he onus...rested with Cameron to join the Kourtises to the Green litigation. The Kourtises themselves were under no obligation to intervene, and they are free to pursue their copyright infringement claim in this suit because they were neither parties to the Green case nor in privity with a party."

The 9th circuit dismissed the Kourtises' state law claims for statute of limitations reasons. Read the decision here.

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