Copyright Infringement Cases in Pop Culture

Stealing ideas is part of showbiz culture, isn't it?  If something works on TV, movies, music, and other entertainment avenues, rest assured that there will be at least a hundred ripoffs on the way. Often it's just a matter of taking stereotypes and giving them a slightly different spin. Other times it's meant to be an homage to the original.  Every so often it's too close for comfort leading to legal action. CBS is in the process of suing ABC, claiming that the upcoming reality show Glass House is a copyright violation of the highly profitable franchise Big Brother

It's a bit ironic, because I always viewed the premise of Big Brother as a combination of pilfered ideas from The Real World (strangers living under one roof with TV cameras recording their every move) and Survivor (competitors for a monetary prize getting voted off each week until only one is left standing).

The greatest copyright battle of all time in my opinion was the courtroom fight between DC Comics (National Comics Publications) and Fawcett Publications which dragged out off and on for decades. DC claimed that Fawcett's Captain Marvel (Shazam!) was a blatant theft of their Superman intellectual property.  This fight had another ironic conclusion with DC eventually owning the disputed character, adding Captain Marvel to its universe of superheroes, having him appear side-by-side with Superman in a number of stories.

Some copyright disputes lead not just to financial gains for the litigators but also to precedents in pop culture entertainment, such as when Queen and David Bowie won their case against Vanilla Ice who used music from "Under Pressure" without permission or compensation in "Ice Ice Baby." It verified that artists were entitled to royalties when their songs were "sampled" in new tunes.

I'm surprised The Honeymooners never sued The Flintstones. One thing is certain, an original idea is still a rare commodity in Hollywood.


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