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Cast Away

CBS loses bid to squelch ABC's ''I'm a Celebrity.'' Judge rules that the show is not similar enough to ''Survivor'' to constitute a copyright infringement

The star castaways in ABC's ''I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here'' have already survived what may be their greatest challenge, a legal threat from CBS. Reuters reports that a U.S. district court judge in New York threw out CBS' bid for an injunction to stop ABC from airing the reality contest, ruling against CBS' contention that the program was infringing on ''Survivor'''s copyright.

''I find the concept and the feel of the two shows to be different,'' said Judge Loretta Preska. Specifically, she noted that, while ''Survivor'' has a serious tone and is marked by ''lush, artful photography and painstaking editing,'' the ABC show is more parodic, ''silly,'' and ''gross.'' Preska also accepted the argument, made by ABC programmer Susan Lyne last week, that ABC has a lot riding on the show -- namely several hours of February sweeps programming that could boost the struggling network's fortunes, and that it's too late to fill the hole their absence would leave. ''Prohibiting 'Celebrity' from airing would bring to a screeching halt the progress ABC has made in regaining its ratings,'' the judge ruled.

A similar suit is pending in England, where both shows originated. Castaway Productions, which created ''Survivor,'' is suing ''I'm a Celebrity...'' producer Granada, which first aired its show last summer. In 2001, CBS also sued Fox over alleged similarities to ''Survivor'' in Fox's ''Boot Camp.'' That suit was settled out of court, and Fox aired its celebrity ''Boot Camp'' last fall.

Originally posted Jan 14, 2003