The director of the 2009 smash hit film Avatar, James Cameron, is facing a copyright infringement lawsuit over claims that he stole ideas for the script from author Kelly Van.
Despite Cameron’s protestations that he has never seen Van’s work, the writer claims that several aspects of Avatar are very similar to her online novel “Sheila the Warrior: The Damned?”. Van alleges that the plotline of Avatar and its Na’vi character’s “attire”, “demeanour”, “powers/rituals” and “motions” are extraordinarily similar to her book. She also says that a number of the scenes and settings featured in the film have been directly stolen from her work.
Van is now suing both the director and film studio 20th Century Fox for plagiarism and copyright infringement. Fox – no doubt confident of winning the case, with appropriate professional indemnity insurance to cover any litigation fees – has dismissed the allegations as nonsense, saying:
“It’s absolutely baseless. Jim Cameron’s treatment for Avatar was written before Ms. Van alleges she even started to write her book.”
Apparently Cameron completed the treatment for Avatar in 1998 but the film was only copyrighted in 2007, whilst Ms. Van’s book was published online 2003.