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James Cameron Sued Over 'Avatar' Script: Was Ex-Employee's Idea

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

James Cameron has been sued by a former employee over his blockbuster sci-fi film Avatar. The lawsuit, filed by Eric Ryder, alleges that Cameron's company Lightstorm Entertainment pilfered the story from him.

This isn't the first time that Cameron and his crew faced scrutiny over the film's origins. Internet users even derided the film as simply being Disney's Pocahontas in space. If you analyze the two films' plots, Avatar does seem a little reminiscent of the classic animated movie.

This is, however, the first suit filed against Cameron by a former employee according to The Hollywood Reporter. What exactly does Ryder allege in his legal filing?

Ryder says that he was a Lightstorm employee in 1999. He wrote a story while employed at the studio titled "K.R.Z. 2068." He even went so far as to create 3-D images and character elements for his story, which was an "environmentally-themed 3-D epic about a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous natural setting."

Not too far of a leap to the Avatar storyline, we'll give him that.

Ryder says that he worked on his story for two years until the production company scrapped the film. Ryder says he was told that nobody would be interested in an "environmentally themed science fiction film." Apparently, they were wrong. Avatar grossed $760 million in the U.S. alone.

James Cameron has been sued in part because Ryder claims they intentionally interfered with his prospective economic advantage from his sci-fi story. The Avatar lawsuit also alleges that Lightstorm and Cameron breached an implied contract and committed fraud, among other claims. Ryder will probably have to demonstrate that he came up with the idea first. Copyright infringement can occur if it's shown that the two works show substantial similarity and that the copier had access to the original work.

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