Mar 24, 2017

Disney accused of copyright infringement

The Disney studios have been accused of copyright infringement over the use of certain themes in their 2016 animated film "Zootopia". American screenwriter Gary Goldman, whose work includes "Minority Report" and "Big Trouble in Little China", has alleged that Disney stole various ideas from a project which he first developed in 2000 and subsequently pitched to Disney executives in 2000 and 2009.

In his claim, Goldman launched an attack on the Disney studios, alleging the company has developed a culture which promotes the unauthorized copying of work rather than lawfully acquiring if for use. Disney has denied the claim and stated it will defend it at court.

Goldman's lawsuit alleges that Disney stole character designs, themes, lines of dialogue, and even the name "Zootopia". Goldman claims that his concept would revolve around a human animator whom creates a cartoon animal world which would reflect human society, including both a class system and power structure based upon the characteristics of each different species.

In interviews regarding the film, director Bryon Howard suggested that the initial ideas for the film arose in 2010 when he pitched several ideas of talking animals to Disney Animation production bosses. Howard also stated that the project began as a spy movie featuring a rabbit but eventually evolved into a detective story starring a rabbit and fox. It was this latter format which the premise of "Zootopia" became based upon.

Since its release in 2016, "Zootopia" has made over $1bn worldwide and last month won an Oscar for the best animated film. Disney have refuted Goldman's claims and have made clear their position that the lawsuit is comprised of false allegations which the studio will defend against in court.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or

in: Copyright, News

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