Apr 20, 2015

Disney's Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Claim is 'Frozen'!

A United States District Judge has refused to strike out a claim of copyright infringement directed at the trailer of the Disney/Pixar hit, Frozen.

Frozen is now the largest grossing animated movie of all time and the fifth largest grossing film in box office history, taking  approximately $1.3 billion worldwide.

The claimant, Ms Kelly Wilson, filed a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company in March 2014 claiming that the trailer used in the marketing of the film was an infringement of her animated short film entitled The Snowman.

In her claim Ms Wilson alleges that she created her short animated movie between 2008 and 2010, and had screened the animated movie at a number of movie festivals, one of which being the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2011 in which she shared a stage with a Disney Pixar Animation.

The allegedly infringing trailer features Olaf the Snowman in a race against a reindeer to get his carrot nose that is in the middle of a frozen pond.  The earlier work, created by Ms Wilson, also features a snowman racing to save his carrot in the middle of a frozen pond.  The claimant maintains that the two films are substantially similar and that the Disney animators had access to The Snowman by virtue of being present at the San Francisco screening, the internet and job applications submitted for positions with Disney between 2009-2010.

Although finding differences between the two movies, the Judge refused the application to dismiss on the basis that the sequence of events as depicted in the two films may lead a reasonable juror to find similarities between the two films and as such, a jury trial would be required to decide whether Disney had access to the claimant's work, and if so, if the work is, in fact, an infringement.

in: Case Law, Copyright, News

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