Ruthless Disney

Disney has upheld quite a reputation for its strict copyright guidelines against using its characters, brand, titles and basically anything ‘associated with the name Disney and its affiliates’. They prove to be a strong force with lawsuits towards huge media companies as well as small online businesses. In 2013, Disney filed a lawsuit against Entertainment Theatre Group that provided audiences with a musical that showcased Disney’s most popular characters, Mary Poppins, The Lion King and Spider-Man. They were being sued for ‘copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair trade practices; seeking damages for willful infringement after defendants refused to stop the show after being warned’ (Gardner, 2013).

Previously, fan favourites such as Shakespearean plays and Charles Dickens novels were free for people to use or reinvent. However, 17 years ago a copyright term act was enforced to keep these out of the public domain. This act expires in a few years but Disney hopes to extend the copyright for the future.

With popular film, Frozen, Disney has become more acceptable towards copyright; particularly with YouTube. The infographic below highlights the popularity of Frozen and how Disney have reacted to the parody videos.



Konnikova M, 2014, How Frozen took over the world, visited 16/9

Lee T, 2013, 15 Years ago, Congress kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. Will they do it again? visited 16/9

Osterndorf C, 2014, How Frozen fandom changed Disney’s stance on copyright infringement. visited 16/9

Wallenstein A, 2014, Disney Plays it Cool with Frozen Frenzy on YouTube. visited 16/9


2 thoughts on “Ruthless Disney

  1. Interesting blog. Disney are certainly ruthless in protecting their assets and enforcing the copyright laws when it comes to their Movies and TV shows. It is a shame really as there’s much to be said for allowing fans to recreate their content in the form of their own amatour movies, fan-fic and so on. By allowing others to interpret and re-interpret a piece of work it is a way to keep the movie(s) alive and can often lead to new ideas that might not have even been considered had their not been another person looking at them from their own perspective. Alternatively I see the value and benefits to having laws protecting content. It means that someone can not blatantly take your idea and use it without acknowledging the person who put in the effort to create it. It allows for some form of protection, however small, and gives them a way to go after and collect compensation should someone steal their ideas. Fortunately with the project I have been working on with my group we do not have to worry about copyright so much since people are willingly sending us their own stories and allowing us to post them on their behalf anonymously. The only thing we need to watch for is if someone has actually taken a story from elsewhere and blatantly pretended that it is their own. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t happen! Good work, and go have a look at our page if you get a chance.

  2. Interesting blog, I didn’t realise how strict Disney’s copyright laws were, however, I can understand, they have created some of the most acclaimed and successful life action and animated feature films in history. The release of Frozen was a dark time for parents of small children, but its very true that the countless parodies found on Youtube or Vine act as a promotional tool, so in that way Disney made a very smart move in allowing the parodies to continue.

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