According to Deadline, the Walt Disney Company has found itself facing yet another huge copyright lawsuit over the $4.5 billion Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
The complaint was filed Tuesday in a “Colorado federal court against almost every corporate aspect of Disney seeking a wide range of damages, profits, and an injunction” that could put all the Pirates films on hold for now.
Deadline reports that A. Lee Alfred, II and Ezequiel Martinez, Jr. both allege that Disney stole “copyrighted expression of themes, settings, dialogue, characters, plot, mood, [and] sequence of events” from their 2000 script entitled Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Alfred and Martinez claim that they handed over the script and sizzle reel during the time they worked with Disney on their ‘Red Hood’ project that the studio expressed an interest in. During the time period “from late 1999 to 2000, the two writers and their producer Tova Laiter say they worked closely with Disney’s Brigham Taylor, Josh Harmon, and Michael Haynes, among others. In fact, they say Disney got them into the Writers Guild as work progressed on the never-made Red Hood.”
The claim says that problems surfaced when a “copy of the screenplay and original artwork was supposedly spied on the coffee table in Taylor’s office and they were quickly hustled out of the room.”
The complaint also states the following:
“The opportunity to have a major film studio, such as Defendants, take a screenwriter’s original spec screenplay and turn the work into a major motion picture is the ultimate dream. A. Lee Alfred, II and Ezequiel Martinez, Jr. almost realized that dream, but they this dream quickly turned into a nightmare, when their original work, ‘The Screenplay,’ was intentionally copied and commercially exploited by Defendant’s, creating a billion-dollar franchise, with no credit or compensation to Alfred or Martinez.”
According to the suit, the writers were paid for their ‘Red Hood’ work soon after the meeting they had in Taylor’s office and sent on their merry way.
“Shortly thereafter, Laiter was informed by Taylor that the Defendants were going to pass on the project due to children being in ‘The Screenplay’, the 25-page filing details. Alfred and Martinez were both on the phone (listening on silent) when Laiter was informed that Defendants were passing on the original spec screenplay and passing on the project. At no point during the conversation did the Defendants state that they had another screenplay already and were moving forward with a Pirates of the Caribbean film project.”
The complaint notes that back in 2000, Pirates producer Taylor stated, “the idea of a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride had been suggested over the years and that the Defendants had considered making a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride recently.”
Disney had this to say regarding the lawsuit:
“This complaint is entirely without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending against it in court.”
Another note of importance is that the plaintiffs only recently registered “their original works of authorship with the U.S. Copyright Office on October 3rd, 2017” without offering comment as to why it took almost twenty years to identify what they feel is a copyright infringement.