Disney: When We Copy, It's Inspiration; When You Copy, It's Infringement
from the hypocrisy-you-has-it dept
Ah, Disney. You have to love a group of people with the ability to compartmentalize their views on matters like intellectual property to the level of these folks. We’re talking about a company that plants its mouse-shaped flag firmly in the land of family values…and then attempts to oddly trademarks a term associated with military operations and death. This same company is part of the chorus of folks out there decrying the public domain as a wasteland of unused creation… despite the fact that many of their best-selling products are built off of public domain works. I mean, this is the bastion of creation that hired a guy to do some remixes for them…and then refused to release those works.
And so it will come as a great shock to perhaps a couple of loin-cloth clad pygmies somewhere in the Amazon Rainforest when reader JMT alerts us that Disney, all-powerful harborer of their intellectual property, managed to be so inspired by a New Zealand-created supercar (called the Hulme CanAm Spyder) that they pretty much copied the design exactly for their upcoming Cars 2 movie. The link to the New Zealand Herald discusses the situation with the car manufacturer’s director, Jock Freemantle:
"Everybody is telling us, ‘it’s your car’. I have had emails from around the world saying it looks like our car. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Oh, if only Disney had the same perspective as this Kiwi with the possibly single most-fun-to-say name of all time. Why is it that Disney, grim reaper of the copyright/trademark realm, has no problem with this? It’s not like this is even the first time the Cars movie series has dealt with this kind of thing, having been through the court system over publicity rights concerning a car in the first Cars movie. Take a look at the image comparison below and decide for yourself how closely Disney’s car resembles the CanAm Spyder (hint: if your determination is anything other than "Disney’s looks exactly the same, except Disney’s looks like they fed a bunch of Skittles to pigeons and then made them fly over the car to, er, color it,” then you’re insane). The irony of this rip off design bearing the name "Rip" in the movie isn’t lost on anyone, either.
To make this as clear as day, the issue is not that Disney used a real life car as inspiration for one of their cartoon movie characters. Rather, the problem is that if the roles in this story were reversed, Disney likely would have pooped its pants as a result from filing a lawsuit with the kind of speed that’d put the Spyder supercar to shame. As one recent commentor put it in an unrelated story, Disney: Sue Thyself.