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AN 18-MONTH legal battle has stepped up a gear this week between media tycoons Charlie Parsons and the Dutch millionaire Jon De Mol over the ownership and copyright of the hit television show 'Big Brother'.
De Mol’s company Endemol has made over £120 million from selling the rights to 'Big Brother' to 21 countries.
Parsons has claimed that the show ‘Big Brother’ is based on a format he developed 12 years ago and is a carbon copy of ‘Survive’, a docudrama that features contestants stranded on a desert island, which has been covered with concealed cameras.
Parsons claims that an employee who worked for his company Planet 24 which was set up with Lord Alli and Bob Geldof sold the format for ‘Survive’ to Endermol and then joined the Dutch company.
Two months ago the Amsterdam district court heard Parsons' demand for all profits past and future from 'Big Brother' and its immediate removal from air in all countries.
However the judge ruled that in essence Endemol had not infringed upon the copyright of the owners of ‘Survive’ because ‘Big Brother’ had been developed separately.
Parsons has stated that there are 12 key elements in his ‘Survive’ format that has been used in ‘Big Brother’.
An appeal against the ruling by Parsons will be heard next month at the Dutch equivalent of the High Court.
Gary Carter, international business manager for Parsons sold Endemol a 12-month option on ‘Survive’ in 1996. Carter who worked on the format then joined the Dutch television company. Work on ‘Project X’ the programme that later became 'Big Brother' started a year later at Endemol’s headquarters in Hilversum.
Parsons and his associates said: “There are too many elements that are similar for this to be a coincidence.”
De Mol insists that he dreamt up the programme idea on a late night drinking session with colleagues.

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