Florida moviegoers have been thrilling to James Bond adventures for more than half a century, and readers of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels have been fans even longer than that. Many of them may know that Fleming’s British Secret Service is fictional, but is loosely based on the real-life British intelligence agency MI-6. Indeed, in many people’s minds, the fictional agency and the real one may be synonymous. For the companies that control the James Bond property rights, that confusion could create a problem.
A recent lawsuit claims that a project based on real-life MI-6 history infringes copyrights Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios holds over the James Bond franchise. The project, titled “Section 6,” hasn’t even been filmed yet, but Hollywood has been buzzing over the screenplay. NBCUniversal reportedly acquired the screenplay for $2 million after a bidding war.
“Section 6” is reportedly set in 1918, as the spy agency formed in the wake of the First World War, and NBCUniversal claims that it is based on real people and real events. Nonetheless, MGM claims that the screenplay steals numerous plot elements from mid-century James Bond films such as “Dr. No” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” MGM claims that the screenplay even plays on Agent 007’s famous introductory phrase “Bond, James Bond.”
Most people might greet this kind of dispute with some variation of “art imitates life, life imitates art” and move on to the next dispute. Those who work in Florida’s entertainment industry may see it very differently. When there are millions of dollars at stake, similarities in story elements look like a threat to one’s livelihood.
Florida entertainment law attorneys handle copyright and other intellectual property disputes all the time. It’s important for those in the industry to have legal help that understands the unique characteristics of entertainment law.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “MI-6 Flick Assumes a License to Steal From 007, MGM Says,” Matt Reynolds, April 7, 2014