One of those rare cases where the infringement claim seems legit
It’s very commonplace in the world of Hollywood for one artist to claim another ripped off his/her idea for a movie or book; but in the case of Steven John Busti, his claim appears to be dead on. Texas based writer and artist Steven John Busti is suing Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the CEO of Platinum Studios; Universal Studios, and Dreamworks. Makers of the major motion picture Cowboys & Aliens for copyright infringement on the basis that they illegally used a story based on his creations.
In 1994 Busti came up with the concept for a new comic called “Cowboys And Aliens“, with a story about space aliens in the old-west. The Cowboys And Aliens story was to be featured in his comic series Bizzare Fantasy; a preview of the story appeared on the back cover of Bizzare Fantasy #0. In January of 1995, “Cowboys and Aliens” was published in the issue “Bizarre Fantasy #1” and was internationally distributed on March 1, 1995.
Two years later, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Platinum Studios, Inc produced a eerily familiar image of a Cowboy being chased by a spaceship. And while it’s not impossible for two people to have similar ideas, the title of this image being “Cowboys & Aliens” was too coincidental. Based on this graphic, Universal Studios and Dreamworks bought the film rights from Rosenberg and Platinum Studios. By 2006 Rosenberg and his Platinum Studios had launched a graphic novel titled “Cowboys & Aliens”, which bore even more similarities to Busti’s “Cowboys And Aliens”.
In both versions of the story, Native Americans discover the aliens and each version features a space craft zooming over a cowboy’s head. The similarities to Busti’s main villain “Morguu” is also remarkable; Busti also points out that Rosenberg would have seen his story due to Busti’s Cowboys And Aliens being featured in Comic Shop News #388, on the same page as a story regarding Rosenberg and his studio. To date the Cowboys & Aliens movie has grossed over 100 Million domestically, and was released on DVD on December 6 of this year.
Busti through his lawyer sent official legal notification to Universal Studios of their infringing on his work, but the studio never issued a response. Many times infringement cases are over very subtle similarities in works of fiction, but we have to admit that the law appears to be very firmly on Steven John Busti‘s side in this case.
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