Disney Pixar's hit mental health positive film Inside Out was copied from "the Moodsters": or so goes the claim by Denise Daniels, a child development expert who specialises in social and emotional development.
In 2017 she filed an amended copyright complaint against Disney Pixar alleging that the entertainment giant had held discussions with her about developing her 2005 creation into an animated series on emotional intelligence in children. Ultimately this did not progress, and in 2010 Pixar began work on the similarly themed Inside Out.
Disney Pixar's argument was that the Moodsters characters were ineligible for copyright, and so the case should be dismissed. District Judge Gutierrez agreed with Disney, and held that the Moodsters did not satisfy the "physical, recognisable, and distinctive" criteria laid down in DC Comics v Towle. He explained that the characters were not sufficiently 'delineated', and would not be recognised wherever they appeared. He did, however, grant Daniels permission to amend her complaint, setting a deadline of 1 March 2018.
Given that Disney Pixar have thus far declined to argue that they did not in fact copy the Moodsters, it may be that Daniels amends and tries again. Her goal would be to prove that her creation benefits from copyright protection; and to force Disney Pixar to argue the copying point, rather than the copyright one.
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