CITE:  617 F.Supp. 1
CMON:  February 1985
PLAIN: Marilyn Anderson and Walter Berk
DEFND: Paramount Pictures Corporation, et al.
COURT: United States District Court, C.D. California
DATE:  February 13, 1985

Professional writer and another brought an action alleging copyright
infringement by defendant writers and producers of motion pictures. The
District Court, Consuelo Bland Marshall, J., held that screenplay entitled
"High Stakes" did not have its copyright infringed by a motion  picture
entitled "Trading Places." Infringement claim dismissed with prejudice.

  Screenplay "High Stakes" not infringed by "Trading Places" motion picture.



1. This is a civil action, filed on November 1, 1983 for copyright
infringement, breach of implied contract, breach of confidence and
unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs are Marilyn Anderson and Walter Berk
(Plaintiffs). Defendants are Paramount Pictures Corporation (Paramount),
Aaron Russo Productions, Aaron Russo, Irwin Russo, Timothy Harris
(Harris), and Herschel Weingrod (Weingrod).

2. Plaintiffs are individuals who reside in California. Ms. Anderson is
a professional writer.

3. Defendants Harris and Weingrod are individuals who reside in California.
Harris and Weingrod are professional writers. Aaron Russo and Irwin Russo
are producers of motion pictures.

4. Defendant Paramount is a Delaware corporation with a place of business in 
California. Paramount is a well-known producer and distributor of motion

5. Plaintiffs are the authors of a screenplay entitled "High Stakes" which
was conceived and written after 1975 and before 1981. For purposes of their
motion, the defendants concede that the screenplay was properly registered
with the U.S. Copyright Office on February 11, 1981.

6. "High Stakes" is a romantic melodrama set in New York City about a
lonely woman executive, Hannah Hartley, who makes a wager with her best
friend, Carole Taylor, that she can train an uneducated white man in six
months to appear sufficiently genuine as a entrepreneur to fool her
company's board of directors. Eddie Debellis is the scruffy-looking young
man with a heavy Brooklyn accent who is the subject of Hannah's attempts
to create a "new" person and with whom Hannah falls in love.

7. The motion picture "Trading Places" was conceived, produced and
publicly exhibited by the defendants after September 1981. "Trading
Places" is a social comedy set in Philadelphia. The plot concerns a
double bet between two elderly, wealthy brokers, Randolph and Mortimer
Duke, to resolve the "eternal" heredity versus environment debate, and
the revenge sought by the two subjects of their bet. Specifically, the 
Duke brothers bet that, if given the opportunity, Billy Ray Valentine,
a black derelict, would manage successfully their commodities investment
company. They also bet that Louis Winthorpe, a successful white investment
broker at their company, would take to crime if faced with sudden
misfortune and poverty. After Billy Ray and Louis discover that they
have been the subjects of this bet, they become allies and together find
revenge against the Duke brothers through a commodity market manipulation 

8. The basic theme/premise of "High Stakes" is two-fold. First, it is about
a wager between two female friends that one of them can train and an
uneducated man to appear to be an entrepreneur in six months. Second,
it is about the development of a love affair between a lonely woman and
the subject of her wager.

9. The basic theme/premise of "Trading Places" is three-fold and very
different from "High Stakes". First, "Trading Places" is about a
double bet between two brothers that a successful executive,
if they simply "traded places". (The entire story in "Trading
Places" occurs within several weeks.) Second, after the subjects discover
the bet, they form an alliance and together seek revenge through a
successful commodity market manipulation scheme. Finally, "Trading Places"
has a strong social commentary or satirical theme/premise resulting from
Billy Ray being black and Louis being white -- specifically, an uneducated
black can succeed if given an opportunity and an educated white will turn
to crime if subjected to misfortune.   ("Trading Places" was initially
entitled "Black & White" during development.)

10. There is no meaningful similarity between the dialogue and settings
in the two works, except for some common and stereotypical phrases and
terms and except that both are set in cities. ("High Stakes" is set in
New York City and "Trading Places" is set in Philadelphia.)

11. The mood and pace of the two works are dissimilar. "Trading Places"
is a fast-paced social comedy that takes place within a few weeks. "High
Stakes" is a slow-paced romantic melodrama with no comedy, that takes
place over six months.

12. The plot and sequence of the works are dissimilar, except that they
both contain the general "transformation" sequence (finding the subject
of the bet, "transforming" him and his ultimate success in his new life).

13. Some of the similarities that do exist between "High Stakes" and
"Trading Places" are unprotectible because they are Scenes a faire --
incidents, characters or settings that naturally flow from or are standard
to the treatment of certain ideas and themes.  Common elements which
constitute scenes a faire include the following: the two wealthy characters
who make the bet drive around in a limousine and have a butler and
chauffeur; people toast with champagne at celebrations.

14. With respect to the few random scenes or elements which are similar
in both "High Stakes" and "Trading Places" which are not described
above, they are random, insignificant, have no pertinence to the
"total concept and feel" of the works and would not lead an ordinary
lay observer to believe one work is the "dramatization or picturization"
of the other. By way of illustration, both works have a character who 
pretends to be blind with dark glasses and a cup, who is later revealed
as not blind; in both works the wealthy bettors bribe the subject of the
bet to enter their limousine and the subjects then initially think that
the bettors may be interested in sex; finally, in both works wallets
contain credit cards, people chew gum, houses have fireplaces, men shave
and passing references are made to Harvard, the Russians and unemployment.


1. The Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this civil
action pursuant to 1331 and 1338 of Title 28 of the United States Code.

2. The "ideas" of "High Stakes" and "Trading Places" are not substantially
similar as a matter of law. A comparison of the plots, themes, dialogue,
mood, setting, pace and sequence of the works reveals no similarities
which are of significance as a matter of copyright law.

3. The "expression" of the ideas in "High Stakes" and "Trading Places" is
not substantially similar as a matter of law. No reasonable jury or
ordinary lay observer could consider the motion picture "Trading Places"
a "dramatization or picturization" of the screenplay "High Stakes".
Neither could a reasonable jury find the "total concept and feel" of
the works to be substantially similar. The concrete patterns of the works
as a whole are quite different. The interplay between the characters
and sequence of incidents also are not similar.

4. No ordinary reasonable observer would find either that "Trading Places"
reflects the total concept and feel of "High Stakes" or that
"Trading Places" is a picturization or dramatization of "High Stakes".

5. There is no genuine issue that defendants infringed plaintiffs'
copyright. Defendants are entitled to a partial summary judgment with
respect to plaintiffs' copyright claim. Plaintiffs' claim for
copyright infringement shall be dismissed with prejudice.

6. Plaintiffs shall take nothing and be afforded no relief therein.
Plaintiffs' pendent state claims shall be dismissed without prejudice.

7. Defendants are entitled to attorneys' fees and costs they have
incurred and expended in defending against the complaint herein.