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Island versus Clonus in court

TheIsland_Poster.jpgDreamworks and Warner Brothers have been ordered into court in the case of copyright infringement for The Island against the independent 1979 film The Clonus Horror.

Both films featured a secret area filled with clones living normal lives who are being harvested for their organs, with one clone escaping to reveal to the world the truth of the events.

The studios wanted the case dismissed, but the judge decided that this was best put to a jury for a decision. The producer-director of Clonus, Robert S. Fiveson, and associates have raised the case according to SciFi Wire.

When can an idea be deemed to be copied by a group of independent people? It's very difficult because copyright theft happens all the time without the any attribution (don't I know it!), but how do you decide when it has been legitimately created totally independently and without reference to the other? There are genuine cases of the exact same ideas being thought up by two different people at the same time.

Imagine being on the jury of this case. How would you decide? Solely on if the ideas are very closely linked, or do you listen to those involved and try and see if you believe them or not? I think a case like this is very hit and miss.



The only way to decide on copyright infringment cases like this is to go through the movie scene by scene. If there are examples of complete scenes being filmed the same then you can say they copied, otherwise they have come up with their own version of a film based on the same idea.

This is silly. There are not infinite ideas or stories to make, and anyway, if someone copies and makes a good result, what about it? If I was the jury, I would punish the "independent" proclaimers to do social works for years.

Yeah Nox, and there's the difficulty, it then all becomes subjective and opinion.

Although I think you're being very harsh Peter, I do agree partially. I just think there's no clear way to prove this so that it becomes time wasting, unless it's blatantly obvious...but even then who's to know if it really was intentional. If someone really copied a movie would they be so blatant?

If someone really copied a movie would they be so blatant?

... Yes, it happens all the time, take Reservoir Dogs for example which Tarantino showed at festivals as though it was all his original work. Ringo Lam has said he did not want money as Hong Kong films also "borrow" from America, but it would have been nice to have been credited. To his credit Tarantino has been open and honest about his sources since, but one does wonder how much of that is because he got caught out. Another more recent example would be the Horror movie Chaos which rips off Last House on the left.

I guess there is a grey area between being inspired by the work of others which is unavoidable and plagiarism, I think though if this was a case based on novels and not films the sympathy would be with The Clonus Horror. People seem to be able to accept plagiarism in film more readily, maybe because they see it as a less academic art than written fiction.

You beat me to it bullet - after reading your first paragraph I was saying to myself "but that's inspired, just scenes and ideas, not entire story and vision scene by scene from a single film"...

Then you caught that in second paragraph. Inspired by is not a blatant copy.

It's such a grey area though I don't see how decisions can be easily, and positively, made.

"It's very difficult because copyright theft happens all the time without any attribution (don't I know it!)"

Still nice to the very end huh Richard? ;)


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