On Wednesday, September 17, Judge Furman of the Southern District of New York federal court granted a motion dismissing claims against James Cameron for alleged copyright infringement in the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar.
The judge’s dismissal relieves Cameron of the fourth lawsuit in the past year stemming from the film Avatar. This cause of action was brought by Roger Dean, an English artist, whose works include album covers for the bands Yes, Uriah Heep, and Asia. Dean sought more than $50 million for Cameron’s alleged copyright infringement. The suit alleged that the landscapes and creatures from the film were so similar to Dean’s art that the Cameron must have had access to and copied the art during the film’s conceptualization. The judge, however, disagreed
In ruling to dismiss the motion, Judge Furman compared the similarities and differences between Dean’s art and the landscapes in Avatar. Dean’s allegations specifically include Avatar’s floating mountains as similar to the floating land in his art. Regarding the use of floating landscape, the judge stated “[Dean] does not have a monopoly on the idea of floating or airborne land, an idea that has been around since at least 1726, when Jonathan Swift published his classic Gulliver’s Travels.” Additionally, the judge criticized Dean’s comparisons as he removed Cameron’s images from their context and manipulated them in order to bolster his argument. Dean’s case was therefore dismissed in its entirety.