Disney. Inside Out. The Moodsters.


Copyright Infringement.

copyrightHave you ever considered pitching a story idea to a big movie producer? If you have, you also have to think about ensuring that your concept doesn’t get stolen. Many times, an idea gets pitched, rejected and then later the producer uses a similar storyline.

Childhood development expert, Denise Daniels, co-founded the National Childhood Grief Institute which counsels children after tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.

In addition to National Childhood Grief Institute, Daniels created a children’s program called The Moodsters to help kids better manage their emotions. She pitched this idea to Disney-owned Pixar many times between the years of 2005 and 2009. Daniels states that there was an understanding that she and her team would be compensated in the event that the idea was used.

Fast forward to 2015, Disney launched the “Inside Out” animated program to explore children’s emotions through various characters representing different moods by using colors.

Daniels filed a lawsuit against Disney stating that her idea was used and she was not given credit or compensation.

Story Ideas.

According to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Geibelson, who writes that in The Moodsters “Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green) and love (pink).”

In a statement to the press, a Disney spokesman said: “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”

A similar case was brought to court in March by Esplanade Pictures who claims that their writer, Gary L. Goldman, pitched Zootopia to Disney in 2000 and 2009, and was not compensated.

So, my advice to you is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Copyright Infringement. Copyright. Criminal Law.


Criminal Law. Copyright Infringement.

Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement

Did you know that someone who uses someone’s Copyright protected work, knows it’s illegal to do so, and monetizes the stolen work can not only be sued in civil court for copyright infringement, but can also be brought up on criminal charges?  Roosevelt Anderson, Jr. discovered that the hard way.  Now he sits in a jail cell for 24 months, and has also been ordered to pay $247,144 in restitution to Adobe.  Why? Because he is a thief, a copyright infringer.  He will likely appeal and perhaps may even get off on a mere technicality.  If he gets off, does that make him not a thief? How many of you are sitting there thinking, but he’s an exception and that could never happen to me—I’m too smart.

Everyone thinks it is okay to take what does not belong to them, and few people believe they will ever be caught.  Let me be the first to tell you that it does not take much to get caught.  For example, if you are a speaker and you say the wrong thing to an audience or they feel you disrespect them, if they have even a little knowledge of copyright law, you can, and will be reported.  Or let’s say you are selling products to a disgruntled customer, and you refuse to make an effort to clean it up, you may find yourself being reported to someone in a position and with the inclination to go after you.  In this age of social media and real time response devices, all it takes is an unhappy customer and the click of the mouse, and you are in trouble.

Roosevelt Anderson, Jr. was a Las Vegas cab driver turned entrepreneur.  His skills amounted to taking Adobe products, duplicating them, and then reselling them.  He had no reseller’s license, had no permission from Adobe to duplicate their products, and never paid Adobe of portion of the proceeds.  Arguably, it was an unhappy customer (or two) who turned him in. Is it worth possibly going to jail or having to pay large sums of money in restitution?

What do you think about Mr. Anderson? Copyright infringement? Criminal charges being imposed against him, as well as civil charges?

I’m Attorney Francine Ward providing you with useful, and sometimes provocative legal information. Join the conversation on my legal Facebook Fan Page, legal Twitter Page, or in one of my LinkedIn groups.





Copyright Protection. Copyright Publication. Copyright Symbol.


Publication and Copyright  

Copyright Publication.  Copyright Information.

Does a work have to be published before it can receive copyright protection? The answer is not anymore, but prior to 1978 copyright protection was established, either by publishing the work and affixing the copyright notice symbol, or through registration.

So how do we define publication for the purpose of copyright protection?

According to the Copyright Act of 1976, “Publication” is defined in the following way:

“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

After the passage of the 1976 Copyright Act, which went into effect on January 1, 1978, a work does not require publication in order to be protected, rather, it receives copyright protection as soon the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression – paper, canvas, disk, hard drive, etc.

Also, the law does not require a work to have a copyright registration, but registering a copyright does have legal benefits if infringement occurs.  One major benefit of federal registration is that you have the legal right to sue for copyright infringement.

As you can see, not fully understanding copyright law can get you into a lot of hot water. Please remember that just because a work is not published does not mean it is not protected by copyright law.  And while registration is not mandatory, it is a smart business judgment decision.  PROTECT your work now!

So, in order to fully protect your intellectual property it is always wise to seek the counsel of a copyright attorney who can advise you of your rights and obligations under the law.

Until next time, I’m Copyright & Trademark Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours!

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