Comic author claims "Cowboys & Aliens" idea stolen

Thu Dec 1, 2011 6:53pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - The author of a 1995 comic story titled "Cowboys & Aliens" on Thursday sued the producers of a summer action flick of the same name, and accused them of stealing his idea.

Austin-based author Steven John Busti filed his lawsuit in federal court in his home state of Texas.

The lawsuit comes as another potential blow to the Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Studios film "Cowboys & Aliens," starring Daniel Craig which was released in July and made only $175 million at worldwide box offices, which was barely a higher tally than the movie's budget.

In 1994, Busti came up with the concept for lasso-wielding cowboys facing off against giant aliens in the West, and published a story the following year titled "Cowboys & Aliens" in a comic called "Bizarre Fantasy," his lawsuit states.

Busti's lawsuit also said that in 1994, a publication called Comic Shop News ran a feature on his "Cowboys & Aliens" idea in the same issue that it had a story on comic book entrepreneur Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

Rosenberg's Los Angeles-based comics and entertainment firm Platinum Studios in 2006 launched the graphic novel series "Cowboys & Aliens," which Busti said in his lawsuit bears "striking similarities" to his own work.

Those included the physical resemblance between the alien commander in Platinum Studios' graphic novel, and the alien conqueror named "Morguu" that Busti created, the lawsuit says.

Universal and DreamWorks bought the rights to produce a film based on the "Cowboys & Aliens" concept from Platinum.

The studios declined to comment on the lawsuit, which names Rosenberg, his company Platinum and the studios Universal and DreamWorks as plaintiffs.

Busti did not register the copyright for his "Cowboys & Aliens" story until this year, but his attorney said that is not an obstacle for the lawsuit because an author obtains copyright as soon as a work is created.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant)