A Case of Unauthorized Use

Barry Tubb, recognized for his role as Leonard “Wolfman” Wolfe in the iconic 1986 film “Top Gun,” has initiated legal action against Paramount Pictures. The dispute arises over Paramount’s inclusion of Tubb’s image in the 2022 sequel “Top Gun: Maverick,” without his consent. Tubb’s character is depicted in a photograph alongside other main characters from the original film, which the actor claims was altered from a behind-the-scenes shot, infringing on his copyright.

Tubb’s lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, emphasizes that his original contract with Paramount did not authorize the use of his likeness in any future films, including sequels. This case underscores the complexities surrounding copyright and contract agreements in the film industry, particularly when it comes to unauthorized use of an actor’s image in new productions.

The Sequel’s Controversy

“Top Gun: Maverick” achieved significant success, becoming the second-highest-grossing movie of 2022. However, this legal challenge brings to light the broader implications of using actors’ likenesses from past films without explicit permission. Tubb’s legal filing argues that the use of his image in the sequel was not “incidental” but rather a deliberate choice that suggests his affiliation with the new film.

Paramount Pictures has yet to issue a response to the allegations or the lawsuit. The case raises important questions about the rights of actors to control the use of their images and the obligations of studios to secure consent for any such use, especially in sequels or related projects that were not foreseen at the time of the original contracts.