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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Celebrity Slam - A tale of two copyright lawsuits

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Every once in a while, there’s a week where Celebrity Slam pickings are pretty slim.

It’s not that famous people aren’t getting up to stuff – they totally are – so much as it is that the stuff they’re getting up to isn’t all that funny. It’s like, sure, we know that many of these celebrities are sh—y people – but when the events in question are bleak and sad, well … our hearts just aren’t in it.

We thought we might have something when we saw a story about how a movie chimp that died a while back actually didn’t die and it turned out that its handler had faked its death, but then Alan Cumming (who had worked with the chimp) and PETA both got involved and then the story stopped being funny and started being sad and … well, you get it.

So when we have weeks like this, we sometimes find that we need to put a couple of less-vital items together and call it a day.

Hence, we are poking fun at a pair of years-late efforts by non-famous people to sue famous people in an effort to get paid. These suits are both rather dumb, though one is far dumber than the other (we’ll let you decide which is the dumber of the two).

Let’s go in the order in which we heard about them.

First, let’s talk Mariah Carey. Specifically, let’s talk “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” that staggeringly omnipresent holiday tune that is the closest to a modern Christmas standard there is (assuming you consider 1994 to be modern; we do, because we’re old).

Some dude named Andy Stone has filed a lawsuit against Carey claiming that since he wrote a song for his band Vince Vance and the Valients that was also titled “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in 1989. He’s suing Carey for copyright infringement and unjust enrichment and asking for $20 million.

Let’s note that aside from the title, there is practically zero similarity. One’s a pop song, one’s a country ballad. There are no lyrical overlaps. Literally the only thing they have in common is the title, for which Stone is asking – almost 30 years later, mind you – millions of dollars.

Second, let’s talk “Top Gun: Maverick.”

You may not know this – we didn’t – but 1986’s “Top Gun” drew a significant amount of inspiration from a 1983 magazine article titled “Top Guns” about Naval pilots written by Ehud Yonay. The studio optioned the piece, Yonay was in the credits, etc.

But now Yonay’s heirs are filing a copyright suit over the sequel, claiming that it violates the law that says rights revert after 35 years. It’s weird timing, filing after the film had already made hundreds of millions of dollars, but whatever. And the studio claimed that it wasn’t derivative of the original source material and anyway, shooting on the oft-delayed film was completed before the date of reversion, which … also whatever.

It should be noted that the target of the suit is Paramount; Tom Cruise is not named.

See? Dumb. We told you.

We are firm believers in the rights of creators to be compensated for their creations and to be protected against those creations being exploited for profit by others. If created work is deemed valuable, than those who created it should share in those profits.

However, the line can be blurry, as it is with the Paramount “Top Gun” suit; while our initial thought was that it was a cash grab – and we still think that’s more or less what it is – it’s tough to deny that the studio pulled some shady maneuvers.

On the other hand, the line can also be on another planet, as it is with the Carey suit. The notion that some dude believes that because his song shares a title with a much more popular one, it must be the popular song’s fault that his own song isn’t as popular. Or something. Honestly, it’s unclear what Andy Stone’s deal is.

So yeah – a tale of two copyright lawsuits. Not a sexy week at Celebrity Slam. We’ll try to better next time.

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2022 04:14


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