October 08, 2008 03:00 PM by Paulene Hinds
A leading Japanese broadcaster, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) has charged ABC for copyright infringement. They are charging that the new summer hit “Wipeout” is a blatant copycat” of several of its classic Japanese competition series.
This is not the first time that the success of areality series has drawn lawsuits from parties alleging the concept was stolen, but usually the complaints involve producing entities. A major broadcast network suing another over a reality series is extremely rare. One such case ocurred in 2002, when a judge ruled in favor of ABC when CBS accused them of knocking off “Survivor” with its reality show “I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here.”
TBS owns the Japanese copyright to the obstacle course series “Takeshi’s Castle,” co-owns the right to Spike TV’s “MXC” (which uses footage from “Castle”) and owns the copyright to competition series “Sasuke” (whose dubbed repeats air under the title “Ninja Warrior” on G4).
The lawsuit reads, “‘Wipeout’ unlawfully appropriates the premise, the format, the sequence of events, the introductory segment, the tone, the scene setups, the narration, the dialogue that arises from constructed situations … of the shows.”
The suit on behalf of TBS was filed by top litigation attorney Larry Stein, known mostly for his high-profile profit participation cases.
Larry Stein has filed two major complaints against ABC in the past, one involving the producers of long-running comedy “Home Improvement” and one involving “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” producer Celador, which is awaiting trial.
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Photo Credit: ABC