In an April 9 post we talked to our readers about the potential litigation Disney could face if both intellectual property cases it was involved in went to court. As you may remember, in one case, Disney accused a Canadian film distributor of using its advertising logos to promote another film. In the other case, Disney was accused of copyright infringement by a filmmaker who says that the "Frozen" trailer was a copy of a short film she made.
While it does not appear as if a decision has been made in the first case, a federal judge ruled recently in the latter of the two, denying Disney's request for dismissal and forcing it to face the serious claims of infringement. Now the movie-making giant must prove in court why it feels that its movie trailer is not a copy of the plaintiff's short film.
At present time, the federal judge explained, substantial similarities exist between the plaintiff's film and the Disney trailer. This could prove problematic for Disney, especially if the "audience test" is applied to the two pieces of work. According to the Bar Association, the audience test establishes that if an ordinary observer looks at separate pieces of work and can detect similarities between the two without suggestions from others, then infringement has likely occurred.
If the plaintiff held a valid copyright prior to the making of the "Frozen" trailer and a court decides that Disney did infringe upon it, then it's possible that Disney may be ordered to pay her damages. It's important to point out though that Disney does have the right to defend itself against these accusations and will likely do so in upcoming litigation.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Disney Must Defend 'Frozen' Trailer Claim,” Megan Gallegos, Aug. 5, 2014