Although Judge Otero’s opinion on the Section 6 case was filed in late September, this past week a redacted version of the decision was released—shedding light on his reasoning to not dismiss the case. In late April, MGM filed a suit claiming that Universal’s Section 6 project infringed on the copyright of its James Bond franchise. However, the interesting part is that Section 6 was merely a pending project; therefore there was little material, besides the script, available to compare to the Bond films. Universal claims that MGM merely is trying to prevent competition in the spy film genre. However, now it is known that Judge Otero compared the potential infringement of Section 6 to a previous case brought by MGM—involving a 1995 Honda commercial that featured “a charming British spy character and other elements that suggested, but did not name, Bond.” The court found in that case that the Bond films were protected by copyright because they were “‘unique in their expression of the spy thriller idea,’ and although James Bond has been portrayed by different actors in different movies, his ‘specific qualities remain constant.’” Ultimately, Judge Otereo found more similarities in the Section 6 script (including the introduction of the main character with the line “Duncan. Alec Duncan”), than in the Honda commercial. Thus, he did not dismiss the claim. Based on this ruling will more pending projects or film ideas be deemed to infringe on various copyrights?
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