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Plagiarism Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Dismissed

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on August 11, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Comedian Sasha Baron Cohen has gotten himself out of another sticky lawsuit for his controversial big screen antics. A civil suit filed against Cohen based on a scene in his 2009 film Bruno, which John Musero claims was a little too similar to one in his movie Himbos, has been dismissed. Alleging plagiarism, Musero claimed that he pitched the idea to Cohen's media producer a year before, but was rejected.

The scene in legal question can be best categorized as Velcro mayhem on the runway. Cohen's fashionista Bruno character, "gets stuck to a curtain, crashes into racks of clothes, gets stuck to the clothes, and tumbles out onto the runway," reports Reuters. In the case of Himbos, the main character is said to be in a Velcro suit that attracts attention from various animals before getting stuck to a canopy, a waiter, and ultimately falling into a pool.

The California judge ruled that the two fashionably funny scenes were not similar, and added that the general idea of a man in a Velcro suit is not subject to a copyright claim. A successful plagiarism lawsuit must allege some type of copyright infringement or violation of competition laws. As the judge so eloquently noted that a man in Velcro suit really does not lend itself to copyright, Musero's claim did not have any other legal legs to stand on.

This is not the first legal battle Sasha Baron Cohen has faced for Bruno, or his other famous character, Borat. Cohen was sued for emotional damage relating to another scene in the Bruno movie by an injured bystander; and also taken to court over a Borat scene in which he alleged a bystander had fake terrorism ties in a caption. It looks like controversial comedy can have some sticky legal issues attached to it. Although this case was dismissed, there were plenty of scenes that viewers found offending, and potentially ripe for judicial review.

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