copyright, interllectual property, sue, author, movie

Peru Author Sues For Copyright

Author Sues Over Frozen

It was just a couple of years ago that the movie Frozen took over the world and the song “Let It Go” seemed to be everywhere. While the popularity of the movie and the song are still high, it’s not quite as overpowering as it was when it first came out, and many people, parents especially, view that as a good thing. Most people believe the 2013 movie to be based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale called The Snow Queen, mainly because it follows that tale relatively closely. Of course, not everyone believes this is where the idea for the story originated.

Author Isabella Tanikumi from Peru believes that instead, the story was taken from her autobiography called Yearnings of the Heart about growing up in the Andean mountains of Peru. To rectify this problem, she decided that she would sue Disney for $250 million because she feels they plagiarized her work.

Are They the Same?

First, Isabella’s story is tragic, as it discusses trying to survive in the Andes and dealing with the aftermath of a massive earthquake. It also deals with the death of her sister. However, there aren’t many similarities, at least that most people other than the author can see. Even the main characters in the movie Frozen are named after Hans Christian Anderson. Some of the main characters are Hans, Kristoff, Anna and Sven. Sound it out and you will see what we mean.

In addition, the movie is decidedly magical, as most Disney films are. There is a talking snowman and Elsa has ice powers. It also features trolls. Since Isabella wrote an autobiography, there don’t seem to be any trolls or talking snowmen in the book at all, naturally.

Why Did She Sue?

Maybe she did see some similarities between the two that other people simply don’t see. It’s entirely possible that she saw things that others didn’t.

However, many feel that she was being opportunistic, and even if she didn’t win the lawsuit (not many would believe they could), it might bring some attention to her book. Frozen was very successful. Though the budget of the film as only around $150 million, it has brought in well over $1.2 billion in the box office, not to mention DVD and Blu ray sales, not to mention all the other licensing deals. Getting attention for the book could have helped it to get a few more sales.

U.S. District Judge William Martini believed that the latter was more likely. Disney filed a motion to have the case dismissed, and the judge agreed. He said that general plot ideas and themes are in the public domain and they are not protected by copyright law.  He also believes that the similarities – 18 of them- were tenuous including sisterly love, betrayal, secrets, and other elements that are common to both fiction and life.

Thus, the Frozen lawsuit was frozen in its tracks. When people have a legitimate belief and complaint that someone stole their intellectual property, it is always a good idea to pursue the matter. However, it’s important to understand the difference between basic themes and actual theft.

Resources: