Copyright Law

Producers of 'Matrix' trilogy dodge copyright infringement lawsuit

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What does The Matrix trilogy have in common with cryogenically frozen Nazis who become immortal and wage war on the rest of the world?

According to a Los Angeles federal district judge, not much—or at least not enough to find that the creative team behind The Matrix stole ideas from Thomas Althouse’s project The Immortals. Deadline reports that U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted summary judgment Monday to Warner Bros. Matrix directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and producer Joel Silver, finding that the projects were not similar enough to warrant a trial for copyright infringement.

In his opinion, Klausner noted that The Immortals was a story of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis cryogenically freezing themselves and returning in the future, when they become immortal, thanks to a special drug created by Hitler’s followers. The reanimated Hitler then wages war against non-immortals and tries to wipe them off the face of the earth. Klausner wrote that it was a pretty far cry from the Matrix films, which centered on machines who create a false reality so that they can enslave humanity.

“The court has read The Immortals and viewed all three films of The Matrix trilogy,” Klausner wrote in his decision (PDF). “The court finds no substantial similarity as to any protectible element of plot, characters, theme, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, or sequence. Even if plaintiff could prove that defendants had access to The Immortals script, no reasonable jury could possibly conclude that the Matrix trilogy is substantially similar to The Immortals in any of these categories.”

The only similarity Klausner found was that both stories center around rebels who rise up against a dominant group that seeks to enslave humanity. That theme, Klausner found, is too general to be copyrighted.

None of the parties responded to Deadline’s request for comment.

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