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Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp v. MCA, Inc.

715 F.2d 1327 (1983)

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Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp v. MCA, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

715 F.2d 1327 (1983)

Facts

In 1977 Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (Fox) (plaintiff) released the film Star Wars. In 1978 MCA, Inc. (defendant) released the film and television series Battlestar: Galactica. Fox brought suit against MCA; Universal (defendant), an MCA subsidiary; and American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (defendant), which televised the series, over similarities between the works. LucasFilm, Ltd. (plaintiff) joined the suit, and the complaint was amended to allege copyright infringement of the 1976 book version of Star Wars as well. Similarities included a galactic war between democratic and totalitarian forces, a friendly robot on the side of the heroes, futuristic space vehicles designed to look old and worn, and a climactic assault on the totalitarian forces’ base by fighter pilots, among other plot points. MCA, Universal, and ABC moved for partial summary judgment, which was granted. Fox and LucasFilm appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tang, J.)

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