Media Law: Copyright Court Case

By Hoa Ha. In 2009 movies had a new standard to meet, with the release of Avatar came beautiful images and a story that took the audience to a place where you can only dream to enter. This led to lots of success including awards such as the Golden Globe award for best director motion picture and made a whopping $749,766,139 according to This led to a copyright case between James Cameron, the director of Titanic and his most recent movie Avatar, versus Elijah Schkeiban. The case consisted of Elijah Schkeiban trying to sue James Cameron for apparently copying and getting the idea of Avatar from Elijah’s screenplay Bats and Butterflies. Of course this was a case about money, because the movie Avatar was so successful and made so much money; I feel that Eijah wanted some of the money by trying to explain to the court how similar the characters in the movie are to the characters in his book and how similar the plants in the movie are to his book. In court Elijah told the judge that the main character in Avatar resembles the main character in his book. The main character in Bats and Butterflies is a weak boy and that the main character in Avatar resembles that because there is a man that goes around in a wheelchair. However, Cameron’s lawyer argued that most stories are like this, they have a hero that is usually weaker than the enemy, and in most movies the “bad guys attack the good guys”. This philosophy of the bad guys attacking the good guys was in almost every action movie made. The judge decided in James Cameron’s favor saying that there was insufficient evidence that Avatar had the character ideas and setting as Elijah’s Bats and Butterflies. This was one of a few cases against James Cameron’s Avatar, apparently there have been more however, Cameron has been successful in those cases.

Comments: This case related to me because I saw the movie and to me it was a beautiful film. However, to my knowledge James Cameron had the idea and script for the movie Avatar years ago. The reason why it took him so long to make the movie was because he was waiting for technology to evolve in order for him to capture the exact idea and image that he wanted for the movie and by 2009 the technology was ready and so was he ready to move on with this project.


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