Multiple People Demanding Credit For Hannah Montana

from the there-are-only-so-many-stories-in-the-world dept

You hear it all the time with almost any successful movie/tv show/book: other people claim that they had the idea first, pitched it and had it rejected (or, the creator “copied” the idea they had produced elsewhere). And now they want money and credit (but mainly money). Of course, this ignores the fact that multiple people tend to have similar story ideas all the time — and in these sorts of things it’s rarely the idea that matters, but the execution. Yet, two different and totally unrelated guys are now suing, claiming that they deserve money for coming up with the concept behind the hit TV show Hannah Montana. First, there’s Buddy Sheffield, who apparently pitched a show called Rock and Roland to ABC/Disney in 2001 about “a seemingly average middle school student who actually moonlights as a pop star.”

Ok, but then there’s Richard Fronduto — who claims that all the way back in 1990 he wrote a pilot script for a show called The Secret Life of Sindi about, yes, a seemingly average middle school student who actually moonlights as a pop star.

Of course, back in the 80s, I used to day dream about my secret life as as child pop-star, as well (you should have seen my air guitar routine) — as did probably tons of other kids. Let’s face it: this idea is not particularly original in the grand scheme of things. Kids always dream about leading glamorous secret lives, and being a rock star is probably a pretty common part of that. But actually then taking that idea and turning it into the massive hit that it is today is not about the idea, but about the execution. It’s unfortunate that we live in an age where we so celebrate the idea, but downplay the importance of execution. It highlights exactly the wrong situation and leads to silly scenarios like this one.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Multiple People Demanding Credit For Hannah Montana”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

Their vague ideas about a show are in no way copyrightable, so what exactly are they suing for?! I’m serious. This is complete BS. You can’t own the idea of a girl who is also a pop star.

Sure, someone will comment that Disney “stole” their ideas. However, you cannot steal ideas. Ideas are not property. And it makes no sense to talk about stealing what necessarily cannot be owned. Furthermore, there is no deprivation when you use someone else’s idea. If everyone can have the same idea, without depriving anyone else, how can one meaningfully talk about stealing that idea?!

Think about all the shows which originated from the show the Fugitive. The Hulk, Kung Fu, The Pretender, and Renegade all had the exact same premise: An innocent person running from the law who stops and helps people every week. Right before he gets caught at the end of the episode, he somehow manages to sneak away to help the next person in the next town.

All of those shows could be made because the idea behind the Fugitive could not be owned.

Heck, under Sheffield and Fronduto’s theory, the producers of Lost owe the producers of Gilligan’s Island a lot of money. As if the idea of people being stranded on an island could somehow be owned.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Collateral Damage from "strong" copyright

An unintended effect from so-called “strong” IP laws is the filing of frivolous and dubious lawsuits as an extortion attempt. Remove the “toll-both” by allowing content to quickly fall into the public domain and these lawsuits will vaporize. The ability to copy Romeo and Juliet over and over again with different twists promotes creativity. (Yes, I know Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain.)

Lonnie E. Holder says:

From the this-was-done-before department

I remember this show, it was called The Partridge Family. A group of ordinary children moonlight as rock stars. Then there were the Brady’s who did the same thing. Of course, the Monkees were pop stars who moonlighted as comedians. Or was it the other way around? Regardless, who cares? If this reaches a judge, I hope he does the appropriate thing with it.

Lonnie E. Holder says:

From the it-is-real-life dept.

I totally forgot the “inspiration” for all the later people who were “real life” children moonlighting as rock or pop stars, The Cowsills. They came before the Osmonds, the Monkees, the Partridge Family (indeed, the Partridge Family was loosely inspired by The Cowsills), Hanson and all the others. Perhaps the surviving members of the Cowsills should sue Buddy Sheffield and Richard Fronduto.

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