California claim: Universal’s ‘Section 6’ is a OO7 rip off

Popular stories about a British secret service agent have been the fodder for the “James Bond” movie franchise for decades. The movies injected life into the Ian Fleming novels. Even people who have never seen a Bond movie may be familiar with the larger-than-life character’s quirks.

James Bond’s publicly-identifiable characteristics as Agent 007, a member of the elite MI6 squad, are at the center of a Los Angeles copyright infringement lawsuit. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, associated subsidiaries, United Artists and Danjaq – the company that produces the James Bond features – are suing NBCUniversal, Universal Studios and a screenwriter. The federal complaint alleges Universal’s planned “Section 6” movie lifts blatantly from the Bond character and franchise.

The lawsuit claims Universal is developing a movie from Aaron Berg’s $2 million screenplay about the origins of MI6 in the post-World War I years. The plaintiffs argued the “Section 6” screenplay and movie feature a secret agent named Alex Duncan with unmistakable similarities to James Bond, and a plot line directly harvested from several Bond films.

Universal and Berg contend “Section 6” is an historical movie, based on facts gleaned from true events. MGM says the script is fiction with dialogue and characters that are too advanced for the 1918 timeline. The plaintiffs agree the out-of-place elements in “Section 6” are a result of infringement upon contemporary Bond movies.

After MGM wrote to Universal officials following the Berg script acquisition, Universal promised the final “Section 6” script would not violate Bond copyrights. Variety reported the lawsuit was filed after MGM’s request to see the revised screenplay was refused. The federal complaint seeks an injunction to stop the production of “Section 6.”

Copyright laws protect authors’ stories and individual characters that are one-of-a-kind. Legal protection of a character can depend on how a court interprets uniqueness. An intellectual property attorney can provide clarification of the copyright laws applicable to your work.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “MI-6 Flick Assumes License to Steal, MGM Says” Matt Reynolds, Apr. 06, 2014