“The Matrix” Creators Victorious in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Remember how great The Matrix was….and then came the sequels. The movie studio and makers behind The Matrix trilogy, including the Wachowski brothers (well, brothers at the time of release but now brother and sister), were successful against a screenwriter’s claim that the movies were a rip-off of his script. The judge found that the any similarities between the two works are unprotectable scenes a faire.
MatrixIn 1993, plaintiff, Thomas Althouse, sent a script to Warner Bros., The Immortals, about a CIA agent that is given immortality and must wipe out the son of Adolph Hitler and his equally immortal Nazi party. Plaintiff alleged 118 similarities between his script and The Matrix trilogy among them: a plot that involves a protagonist that attempts to prevent a dominant group from oppressing a subservient group; both protagonists have enemies that they hate and have nightmares of their significant other dying; and both stories occur in the future. Pretty weak claims and even weaker because the Wachowski’s began writing the script for The Matrix trilogy in 1992, before Althouse even submitted his script to Warner Bros.
The judge stuck to the well-established caveat that ideas are not protected, only the expression of those ideas. The judge found that any similarities between the two works are just elements common among many films of the sci-fi genre or scenes a faire. If Neo turned out not to be “the one” but instead the son of Hitler, plaintiff might have had a more compelling argument. The judge dismissed the case. As the prevailing party, defendants now have the right to request reimbursement of their attorneys’ fees from plaintiff.