James Cameron Stacking Up Wins in 'Avatar' Copyright Lawsuits

A Vancouver man bows out of a lawsuit after first day of court hearing.
James Cameron

"James Cameron Prevails in Another Avatar Lawsuit," reads a Thursday press release from 20th Century Fox Film. 

If that sounds familiar, Fox also had a release on Jan. 21 that read, "James Cameron Prevails in Another Avatar Lawsuit." But hey, originality only counts in a courtroom.

Cameron has already beaten a $1 billion copyright claim from Bryant Moore, has been the victor in an implied contract claim from Eric Ryder, and has denied a win for Gerald Morawski. There have been other Avatar victories too.

The latest claim came from a Vancouver man named Emil Malak, who said that Avatar bore a striking resemblance to his 1998 screenplay, Terra Incognita, about a community of indigenous people who were protecting their home planet from militaristic human intruders who want to mine precious minerals.

Malek was actually the first person to make claims that Avatar was stolen; we first covered his allegations back in December 2010.

But apparently, Malek has seemingly realized that his chances of winning were roughly equivalent to those of him filling out a perfect March Madness bracket in Warren Buffett's challenge.

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According to Fox's press release, "After the first day of hearing on Cameron's motion for summary judgment, Malak approached Cameron's counsel and said he no longer wanted to pursue his claim."

Malek is quoted as saying, "After listening to the evidence, I became convinced that Avatar was independently created and accordingly I dismissed my action."

(Asked whether there was any settlement, a Fox spokesperson says, "No. Malak was not paid anything.  Defendants did waive costs.")

Since Avatar came out in 2009, the statute of limitations has presumably passed on any new claims. Then again, Warner Bros. is still in the midst of a lawsuit filed last year by a Hawaii man named Thomas Althouse over whether The Matrix was stolen, so it's impossible to rule out more Avatar lawsuits and yet more James Cameron legal victories.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner