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A U.S. appeals court panel has ruled that an Australian couple can proceed with a lawsuit that alleges their idea for a shape-shifting creature was used without permission in the film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Filia and Constantinos Kourtis claim that they came up with the character in 1987, for a movie called “The Minotaur.” The couple hired a writer, William Green, to craft a screenplay, and they allege that the screenplay was shared with James Cameron, who directed and co-wrote “Terminator 2.” The science-fiction film, which starred Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before he entered politics, was released in 1991 and featured a character that can transform its appearance. Green, who claimed he owned copyright for the screenplay, filed an infringement lawsuit against Cameron and others after the film was released, but the suit was dismissed. The Kourtises later challenged Green’s ownership of the script in an Australian court and prevailed in 1998. The couple then filed their own lawsuit against Cameron, alleging that he used their shape-changing concept without providing payment or attribution. A district court dismissed the couple’s lawsuit, concluding that the earlier decision in Green’s lawsuit precluded them from litigating the copyright infringement issue again. The couple appealed and a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Monday in a 17-page ruling that they were not a party to the earlier case and should have their day in court. A message left after by The Associated Press at Cameron’s production company was not immediately returned. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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