Original ‘Top Gun’ Story Writer’s Heirs Sue Paramount, Claim High-Flying Sequel Violates Copyright

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The heirs of the original writer of a magazine article that inspired the 1986 film “Top Gun” sued Paramount Pictures, saying the studio willfully ignored a copyright claim filed in 2018 – before making the high-flying sequel starring Tom Cruise.

Ehud Yonay wrote an article titled “Top Guns” for the relatively unknown California Magazine in 1983, only to see it made into a blockbuster film three years later. He was rightfully credited as the “story-by” author at the time, and still is.

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According to his lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for central California by Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the copyright was legally re-claimed in 2018, a statutory termination triggered after enough time had passed. The suit says the “Top Gun” sequel, a direct derivative of his original story, is in violation of that claim, which Paramount ignored.

“These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a Paramount spokesperson told TheWrap.

The lawsuit repeatedly references the magazine article’s “cinematic” writing style, taking an “otherwise dry topic” and making it into a tale of charismatic flyboys, including details of their personal lives. That could be significant, as the facts of the article itself are not subject to copyright.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Ehud Yonay as the plaintiff.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report …