Disney Sued For Copyright Infringement

from the but-is-it? dept

A few folks sent over the following story of how Disney is being sued for copyright infringement. Seems a bit ironic, given just how strict Disney has been over the years in enforcing its copyright and being at the forefront of efforts to expand copyright law — even as it tend to build some of its greatest works by copying works in the public domain. In this case, a design company produced a graphic that consists of drawings of dozens of dogs, each with a little signature under their names:

Disney then introduced a teen fashion line called “D-Signed.” However, some noticed that one of the t-shirts had a design quite reminiscent of the original dog artwork.
Perhaps I’m missing something, but I don’t see where those particular images were directly copied from the original. As fun as it would be to catch Disney in a clear copyright violation, the dogs on the t-shirt don’t appear to be the same. And, we’re always told that there’s an “idea/expression” dichotomy in copyright law, which is supposed to mean that you only protect the specific and defined expression — not the general idea. So I’m just not sure I see how this is infringing, even if the idea was taken from their poster. Obviously I can understand the creators’ frustration, but that hardly means there’s a legal claim. Update: On closer inspection, as pointed out in the comments with a handy illustration, it turns out the copying was more direct than we thought.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Disney Sued For Copyright Infringement”

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62 Comments
Mormolyke (profile) says:

Re: Brat kid

Just curious, if I were to show you how nearly all of the pictures on the Disney shirt have nearly exact analogs in the original work, would you say they have a case?

http://i.imgur.com/oOQaQ.jpg

I’m confused as to why everyone’s saying that Disney doesn’t deserve it, or that it’s just the concept that was copied and not the drawings, when this is clearly not true. There’s no way that many dogs look that similar by coincidence. It’s amazing to me that their artists didn’t bother to trace different dog faces.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Brat kid

Just curious, if I were to show you how nearly all of the pictures on the Disney shirt have nearly exact analogs in the original work, would you say they have a case?

If they are only nearly exact, and not actually exact, then no, they shouldn’t have a case. Copyright covers the expression, not the idea. If the expression differs, there’s no violation.

But courts have found a gray area in prior cases. I suppose that if the expression is close enough, they might find a sympathetic judge. But since this is against Disney, that seems unlikely.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Brat kid

There’s no way that many dogs look that similar by coincidence.

To be fair to Disney (and ****-knows why the hell I should be), the illustrations are of fairly distinctive breeds of dog done in what is essentially a black and white line-art pencil sketch, exactly how different could they look? I make no claims of being an artist, but that style would seem to reduce the image somewhat to key distinctive features so how many ways are there to sketch a chihauhau face for example?

On the other hand, there have been many more equally silly claims for this sort of thing so if even one of those succeeded, the balance of the universe would suggest that Disney ought to lose their shirt over this. If only the universe worked like that…

Logan2057 (profile) says:

Re: The deep pockets aspect comes into play.

Big mouth – no thought- no brains = moronic troll.
My word, o_o_t_b, can’t you do anything but pick on people. You constantly whine and carp at Mike no matter what he does or doesn’t write. According to you it’s, “All Mike’s Fault” and you won’t rest till you get a rise out of him. Well, he ain’t baked bread so that day will be long coming. I’m sure that like the majority of us Mike is getting more than a little tired of your self-serving, MAFFIA spouting, moronic drivel. Or to put it a bit more succinctly, “CRAWL BACK UNDER THE BRIDGE FROM WHENCE YOU CAME, HOSER!!” You ain’t wanted or needed here.

Mike C. (profile) says:

Important to remember

The deeper point here that gets lost in the lack of merit in this suit is that if the copyright maximalists succeed, this will become a very common occurrence. For every suit the entertainment conglomerates file, they’ll be defending a dozen as more and more people subscribe to their version of “copyright”. Makes you wonder if they’ll go screaming to Congress to get the changes backed out at that point. I doubt it, but you never know.

Anonymous Coward says:

OOTB, do us all a favor and do what you threatened to do…that is if you have the balls to live up to your supposed threats of leaving and do so.

You’ve had more than enough time to contribute to the community but instead you wanna troll. The community has given you more than enough rope to jump and and actually put some brain power into your objections and all that comes out of your mouth is spittle and slobber. That is why your posts disappear. The few and rare where you have actually contributed to the community have remained up and visible.

Get a clue troll. Buy one if you have to. I saw a tee shirt the other day asking if you would like to buy a vowel that was appropriate for your condition.

Wally (profile) says:

Interesting...

I guess that for every aggressor, there’s a money grubbing gold digger just to ride on the cash cow of another. The RIAA would know all about that. Also, the artwork from Disney looks like concept art for “Lady and The Tramp”. As much as I have a love/hate relationship with Disney, this is something you just don’t do. Just because you’re an underdog doesn’t mean you have the right to ride a cash cow through litigation. Karma be DAMNED, nomatter what, big or small, no individual or company should be allowed to claim rights to works it doesn’t own.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let’s suppose that this suit actually represents a legitimate copyright claim; if it does, remind me never to risk drawing a picture of a dog’s head.
Let’s also suppose, when it eventually gets to court, that the judge-turned-art-critic determines that the shirt is infringing and orders Disney to pay damages.

Then let’s realise that the creator of the shirt had to sell her house and continues to risk bankruptcy in order to fight this case.

Can we please free ourselves from the delusion that copyright (and patents) exists to protect small creators from big, mean corporations?

crade (profile) says:

Some of those look like they could be photocopied from the original, but it’s possible they were just traced or re-drawn by intentionally copying each line from the original as I used to do with comics when I was a kid..

Pretty blatantly direct copies though, whether they used a photocopier or a hand. The heads are moved around, but each one certainly isn’t changed noticably from the originals.

Even if it’s not illegal it’s good enough to show Disney is being hypocritical anyway by copying someone else’s work without giving them even credit.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Samsung v Apple

The agressor asserting claims to age old Disney art. As karma ridden as this is, I can’t help but notice that the people making the shirt failed to realize that their product is completly different.

I’m sure some of you will expect me to “defend Apple” But I’m not going to. The newest litigation against Apple by Samsung alleges a few ridiculous patents, and now in retaliation, Apple filed more ridiculous patent suits against Samsung…next bloody annoying war is scheduled for 2014.

Kevin says:

Dogs

I hate to say it… But the lawsuit has no merit. If you we’re to ask me to draw 30 different dogs… they would only look marginally different from each of these. Nothing here is a direct copy or even a unique property. If it was a really obscure design with original concepts… the designers would have a lot more weight in their corner.

Kevin says:

Dogs

I hate to say it… But the lawsuit has no merit. If you we’re to ask me to draw 30 different dogs… they would only look marginally different from each of these. Nothing here is a direct copy or even a unique property. If it was a really obscure design with original concepts… the designers would have a lot more weight in their corner.

Kevin says:

Dogs

I hate to say it… But the lawsuit has no merit. If you we’re to ask me to draw 30 different dogs… they would only look marginally different from each of these. Nothing here is a direct copy or even a unique property. If it was a really obscure design with original concepts… the designers would have a lot more weight in their corner.

Kevin says:

Dogs

I hate to say it… But the lawsuit has no merit. If you we’re to ask me to draw 30 different dogs… they would only look marginally different from each of these. Nothing here is a direct copy or even a unique property. If it was a really obscure design with original concepts… the designers would have a lot more weight in their corner.

Kevin says:

Dogs

I hate to say it… But the lawsuit has no merit. If you we’re to ask me to draw 30 different dogs… they would only look marginally different from each of these. Nothing here is a direct copy or even a unique property. If it was a really obscure design with original concepts… the designers would have a lot more weight in their corner.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Re: Dogs

˙ɹǝuɹoɔ ɹıǝɥʇ uı ʇɥƃıǝʍ ǝɹoɯ ʇol ɐ ǝʌɐɥ plnoʍ sɹǝuƃısǝp ǝɥʇ ˙˙˙sʇdǝɔuoɔ lɐuıƃıɹo ɥʇıʍ uƃısǝp ǝɹnɔsqo ʎllɐǝɹ ɐ sɐʍ ʇı ɟI ˙ʎʇɹǝdoɹd ǝnbıun ɐ uǝʌǝ ɹo ʎdoɔ ʇɔǝɹıp ɐ sı ǝɹǝɥ ƃuıɥʇoN ˙ǝsǝɥʇ ɟo ɥɔɐǝ ɯoɹɟ ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ʎllɐuıƃɹɐɯ ʞool ʎluo plnoʍ ʎǝɥʇ ˙˙˙sƃop ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp 0Ɛ ʍɐɹp oʇ ǝɯ ʞsɐ oʇ ǝɹ,ǝʍ noʎ ɟI ˙ʇıɹǝɯ ou sɐɥ ʇınsʍɐl ǝɥʇ ʇnq ˙˙˙ʇı ʎɐs oʇ ǝʇɐɥ I

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