Entertainment & Sports Law

Refilming 'Escape from New York' plot in outer-space setting violated copyright law, court rules

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When the French sci-fi film Lockout was released in 2012, critics noticed how similar the storyline was to the 1981 cult classic Escape from New York, albeit now taking place in outer space.

A French court saw substantial similarities, too, ruling that those who made the French film plagiarized from the U.S. version, which stars Kurt Russell as a prisoner with a heroic past seeking to free the country’s president, who is being held hostage. (In the French version, the hostage is the president’s daughter.)

However, the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris imposed sanctions of only a little over $90,000. The plaintiffs had sought 3 million euros, or about $3.42 million at the current exchange rate, according to Agence France-Presse, the Guardian and Variety.

Nonetheless, production company EuropaCorp is appealing.

Spokesman Regis Lefebvre told AFP that the ruling in the copyright infringement case hinders “the freedom of artistic creation” and said similarities between the films were due to stock elements used in both.

He called the decision “unacceptable, even if the court only granted three percent of the damages demanded.”

The ruling was issued in May but only made public on Thursday.

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