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  • Denny Esford

Author “Frozen” Out?

When Disney’s Frozen came out last November, it took the nation by storm. People of all ages loved the movie. Covers and parodies of the hit song “Let It Go” could be heard anywhere and everywhere, including the local news. People raved that Disney had done it again – another amazing, classic movie. However, one woman doesn’t agree. She claims that she, not Disney, was behind Frozen. Isabella Tanikumi has since filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming copyright infringement of her 2010 autobiographies.


Tanikumi insists that her autobiographies “Living My Truth” and “Yearnings of the Heart” were plagiarized by Disney in 18 different ways. Leaving aside talking snowmen who love the summer and singing magical trolls, Tanikumi alleges her book tells “the story of two sisters who have tragedies, romances, conflicts, isolation and loneliness,” and claims this is the plot of the Disney hit as well. Specifically, she points out similarities between the locations, the main characters, the difficult relationship between the sisters, and even that they had opposite hair colors.


However, copyright law does not protect story ideas, only the substantially similar tangible manifestations of an idea. For example, the idea of two star-crossed lovers with families that don’t get along has been used by writers from Shakespeare’s play Romeo & Juliet, to Arthur Laurents’s libretto West Side Story, and a more contemporary example in The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.


So it seems that Tanikumi has an uphill battle ahead of her here. As for Disney’s thoughts on the matter, a representative has suggested that the suit is ridiculous, and that Tanikumi simply needs to “let it go.”

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