SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court Friday ruled against playwright Lisa Litchfield, who sued filmmaker Steven Spielberg claiming he used her one-act musical play 'Lokey from Maldemar' as the basis for the movie 'E.T. -- The Extraterrestrial.'
The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Spielberg and Universal City Studios in ruling that 'Lokey' was not 'substantially similar' to Ms. Litchfield's play and thus did not violate her copyright.
'No reasonable jury could conclude that Lokey and E.T. were substantially similar in their ideas and expression,' Judge Eugene Wright wrote for the panel.
'Any similarities in plot exist only at the general level for which (Ms. Litchfield) cannot claim copyright protection,' the opinion stated.
'E.T. -- The Extraterrestrial,' Spielberg's 1982 blockbuster film, was described by the court as the story of a small alien accidentally left behind on earth when his fellow explorers are forced to leave.
Ms. Litchfield tried to sell her play to University City Studios in 1978 after it was performed publicly in Los Angeles. It was the story of two aliens, Fudinkle and Lokey, who are stranded on earth near the North Pole. They meet Lisa Marie, her younger brother and father, a scientist at the North Pole.
The court also upheld the dismissal of Ms. Litchfield's unfair competition and various state claims against 'E.T.'