“Top Gun: Maverick” has been riding high at the box office, taking in $600 million so far. However, on Monday, Paramount Pictures was sued in a copyright complaint and Paramount was asked to stop all screenings, distribution and production of future sequels.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, we learned that the 1986 film “Top Gun” was based on a story by Ehud Yonay, but the man’s family exercised their right to reclaim the story’s copyright in 2018, effective in 2020.
The plaintiffs argue that Paramount did not reacquire the rights from Shosh and Yuval Yonay, Ehud Yonay’s widow and son, before releasing “Top Gun: Maverick.
“On January 24, 2020, the copyright to the “Top Gun” story reverted to the Yonays under the Copyright Act, but Paramount deliberately ignored this and thumbed its nose at the statute.” So reads the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
And Paramount responded to the lawsuit in a statement to Deadline: “There is no legal basis for these claims, and we will vigorously defend ourselves.”
In 1983, “California magazine” published an article by Ehud Yonay called “Top Guns,” which told the story of the Navy pilots “in a very vivid and cinematic way.
Marc Toberoff, an attorney for the Yonay family, issued a statement arguing that the law gives authors the ability to “benefit financially from their creations and to participate in some meaningful way in the fruits of their labor.
“[Paramount’s side] has been silent,” the attorney said. “They haven’t even tried to give a certain amount of money to negotiate about relicensing this story.”
According to the lawsuit, Paramount responded to a cease-and-desist letter sent by the Yonays in May, in which Paramount simply denied that “Top Gun: Maverick” was a spin-off of the Yonay magazine story.