Disney has faced lawsuits in the past regarding its movies allegedly stealing plot lines, dialogue, or likenesses. Despite these lawsuits, the company has a strong record of successfully defending itself. It was most recently in court when two writers claimed that Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl used ideas from a script the duo submitted to the company in 2000 for the popular 2003 movie. The writers identified suspicious similarities in the scripted dialogue, plot lines, and characters. Although the plot was substantially different, the writers claimed that the film used such ideas as:
- The pirates were funny instead of scary brutes
- There was a supernatural curse
- There were skull-faced pirates
The U.S. District Court in Central California ruled in favor of Disney, pointing out there were fundamental differences between the duo’s script and the movies.
Specifically, the court ruled that the ideas identified by the writers are all details that naturally flow from the premise of a pirate movie, as do sea battles, storms and other plot devices. According to the court, the connections were either overstated or were directed to uncopyrightable elements.
Those with questions can seek legal help
Artists, musicians, and creators of original works can protect their work with a copyright. However, the individual elements that go into those works may not necessarily be entitled to protection.
Those with questions or concerns about a copyright should contact a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney.