May 31, 2017

Disney Hoping For A Happy Ending In Zootopia lawsuit

Esplanade Productions, the company owned by screenwriter and Hollywood veteran star Gary Goldman, filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney company back in March 2017 alleging that Walt Disney copied his ideas in its Oscar winning animated film, Zootopia. This week, further details of the lawsuit came out.

The copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by Goldman after he accused Disney of copying his ideas in Zootopia.  Goldman stated that he pitched his ideas to Disney back in 2000 and again in 2009, both times nothing further came of the meeting and he was sent packing. The ideas that Goldman pitched to Disney, according to the Hollywood Reporter, included 'a live-action component called Looney and an animated component called Zootopia. He provided a treatment, a synopsis, character descriptions, character illustrations and other materials. He claims that he even provided a title for the franchise: Zootopia'.

It has recently come to light that Disney have brought an action to dismiss the complaint, stating that it is merely an attempt to obtain a share of the credit, and proceeds, that has emerged only as a result of the film's success. A Federal Judge will make the decision to as to whether Goldman can continue to pursue the claim.

The Hollywood Reporter stated that Disney claims the case is merely another money grab. Disney have appointed defence lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, who is known for his successful work on very high profile cases. Disney is seeking to dismiss the case by arguing that there aren't substantial similarities to the work, "Looney is a treatment and synopsis for a live-action picture about the struggles and growth of a male human animator who creates a world of animated characters……. Zootopia is an animated motion picture about a bunny protagonist who interacts only with anthropomorphic talking animals. There are no humans, and there is no live-action component." Disney also say that Goldman's allegations amount to no more than copying of an idea for a buddy movie with two contrasting protagonists, a basic plot idea which is not capable of being protected by copyright.

Reuters have reported that Goldman is hoping to be compensated for what he has stated is Disney's "wanton, deliberate, malicious, and wilful misconduct". It will be interesting to see how this dispute, between one of Hollywood's most recognisable companies and one of its most recognisable individuals plays out.

in: Copyright, EU/International, News

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