Author Looks to Thaw Adverse Copyright Ruling Related to Disney’s Frozen
Muneefa Abdullah, a Kuwaiti children’s author, has appealed a District Court’s recent decision denying the author’s copyright suit against Disney, claiming that the District Court judge failed to see the substantial similarities between her 2007 story “The Snow Princess” and Disney’s megahit Frozen.
Abdullah sued the entertainment company in 2015 for copyright infringement, alleging that Walt Disney Studios motion pictures and Frozen screenwriter Jennifer Lee stole plot points, characters, and themes from her story. Last month, Judge Wilson of the Central District of California, dismissed the suit finding no substantial similarities and noting both the film and Abdullah’s story “depict clear influences by and similarities to Hans Christian Andersen’s classic 1845 fairy tale, ‘The Snow Queen.’”
Abdullah is now asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the District Court’s decision, alleging that Judge Wilson failed to discern certain nuanced thematic elements including a princess who has magical ice powers, unintended and harmful results caused by those powers, an icy castle surrounded by mountains, and the idea that only love is capable of defeating evil. The author also alleges that the trial judge found the alleged common elements of both the animated film and story as unprotected “generic plot point” and failed to acknowledge similarities at a “deeper and more detailed level.” The appeal further claims that Judge Wilson treated Disney’s motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, thereby depriving Abdullah the ability to present expert testimony in the form of a fairy tale expert.
In 2014, Disney was also sued for $250 million by author Isabella Tanikumi who claimed that Frozen was based on her self-published memoir that recounts growing up in Peru and her close emotional tie with her sister. A Federal Judge in New Jersey also disputed similarities between the movie and Tanikumi’s story and dismissed that lawsuit.