January 25, 2012 8:29am PT by Eriq Gardner
James Cameron Sued For Stealing 'Avatar' (Again)
The ranks of those suing James Cameron for stealing the idea for Avatar is swelling to Comic-Con proportions as yet another individual has brought forth claims for being the true genius behind the mega-blockbuster film.
Last month, we covered three plaintiffs who had recently filed a lawsuit against Cameron's Lightstom Entertainment.
fourth fifth sixth latest individual who thinks he can beat the odds and not end up being ordered by a judge to pay Cameron's legal bill.
Elijah Schkeiban says he's the creator and author of "Bats & Butterflies," a franchise of products first created in 1988, based on a novel and WGA-registered script by the same name, about a main character named Joshua who fights with thugs and gets injured. Joshua travels to a planet, Altair, and gets lost in a forest. There, he meets indiginous species and is caught up in a battle between the bats and the butterflies. He's held captive by the butterlies and meets the queen, whose daughter teaches him about their ways. Joshua's bonds grow and he flies on the backs of the butterflies and fights for them.
The plaintiff tries to make the case in a lawsuit filed on Monday in California federal court, that all this has similarities to the plot line, themes, and characters portrayed in Avatar. The complaint also lists some not-too-convincing alleged similarities in dialogue as well. Amazingly, Schkeiban found a lawyer to represent him.
What's to explain the phenomenon of Avatar lawsuits? Cameron's movie obviously has some universal themes, and maybe it's the legal form of a Rorschach test for potential copyright plaintiffs. Or maybe publicity of one lawsuit begets envy for others, who might also wish to use the legal process almost as if it was Pandora Radio -- e.g. "If you like Avatar, you'll love this story that came first."
Of course, there's always the possibility that one of these plaintiffs is right. Or, maybe they're all right. If so, Congress better get started on the Stop Avatar Piracy Act.