‘Inside Out’ copyright claim dismissed: Disney and Pixar success

Earlier in the year, Disney and Pixar were hit with a copyright claim in respect of their hit film ‘Inside Out’.

Denise Daniels, who is a child development expert, filed the claim against the two film giants, alleging the characters and plot of the 2015 film were copied from her idea for a TV show, named ‘The Moodsters’.

Inside Out was a filmed which focused on the emotions inside a child’s brain and how children control those emotions.

The claim details how Daniels had a number of discussions in respect of the use of ‘The Moodsters’ as the basis of a film in 2010, which did not equate to anything. Five years later, they released ‘Inside Out’ with any mention of Daniels.

At the end of last year, Disney and Pixar filed a motion to dismiss, on the grounds that the characters were not capable of copyright protection.

While Daniels sought to block this, District Judge Philip Gutierrez granted the motion to dismiss, agreeing that the characters were not capable of copyright protection.

In order to determine this, the court applied the ‘Batmobile’ copyright test which was outlined in US case DC Comics v Towle by the US Court of the Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The test states that “a character has to be physical, recognisable, and distinctive to be eligible for copyright protection.”

The Court found that the characters in ‘The Moodsters’ would not be recognised if they were to appear in other works. Therefore, they were not eligible for copyright protection.

The court therefore dismissed the claim but did grant Denise Daniels leave to amend her claim before 1st March 2018.

Therefore the matter may not be over just yet but for now Disney and Pixar are on top.

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