COMMENT | James Cameron is no stranger to the courtroom, and the rulings haven't always gone the way that the 'Avatar' director might have liked. But the billions which Cameron has earned as director of the highest grossing film of all-time are at least safe, after a court decision over the last few days ruled that he was not guilty of plagiarising the content of the sci-fi epic that was released in 2009.
This is the third copyright infringement lawsuit linked that 'Avatar' has been forced to face, with this latest case brought by screenwriter Bryant Moore. The science-fiction writer Moore had claimed that elements of the blockbuster 'Avatar' were stolen from a short story that he wrote some years ago. Moore claimed that Cameron based large elements of 'Avatar' on two of his scripts from 2003, for projects which were referred to as 'Aquatica' and 'Descendants: The Pollination.'
However, according to federal documents released by a court judge the case has now been shut down. U.S. District Judge Roger Titus issued a summary judgement ruling in Cameron's favour on Friday, with the judge presiding over the case stating that the plot of the 'Avatar' movie was "palpably different" from that of Moore's stories. The judge also acknowledged that there are similarities between the two works, but that these are too vague to be considered a legal example of plagiarism.
Moore had previously claimed that 'Avatar' had numerous distinct plot elements which resembled his work, and demanded damages in excess of $2.5 billion. Naturally Cameron opposed this vigorously, stating that the plot and characters involved in 'Avatar' were completely different to Moore's work, initially asking a Maryland judge to dismiss the lawsuit in July, 2012.
'Avatar' has previously been the subject of lawsuits from writer Eric Ryder and artist Gerald Morawski, both of whom accused Cameron of thieving various elements of the 'Avatar' movie from their work. Both of these lawsuits were dismissed during 2011, and it seems that with this latest court victory the plagiarism storm clouds which have gathered over 'Avatar' are finally clearing.
Cameron has not always been so fortunate with plagiarism lawsuits in the past. The 'Avatar' director was forced to officially acknowledge similarities between 'The Terminator' and the work of science-fiction writer Harland Ellison, settling out of court for an undisclosed sum and including a note in the credits of 'The Terminator' recognising Ellison's contribution.
More articles from Christopher Morris: