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Appeals Court Rules for Sylvester Stallone in Copyright Claim Over “Expendables” Idea

A New York appellate court has ruled in favor of Sylvester Stallone and the producers of “The Expendables” as they faced a lawsuit from a screenwriter who claimed that the project copied his work, “The Cordoba Caper.”

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Marcus Webb’s work was not “substantially similar” to “The Expendables,” concluding that the “total concept and, in particular, the overall feel, of the two works here are quite distinct.” “The Expendables,” the appellate judges said, is a “gunfire-ridden ‘pure action’ flick,” while “Cordoba” is a “trickery-based true caper.”

“Even if the works share some common elements, the manners in which they express the stories feel dissimilar on the whole,” the court said. They said that “Cordoba” does not feel like a “macho rogue military mission,” but “a tale of a cunning heist with sensitive and human characters, female figures who are independent and capable, and imagery that includes Mayan villages, horseback riding through the Andes mountains, and Native American ceremonial costumes, food and music.”

In December, 2012, Webb lost his copyright infringement suit against Stallone, Lions Gate Films, Millennium Films, Nu Image and other producers when a U.S. District Court judge concluded that he had not shown evidence of actual copying of his work.

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