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Canadian Filmmaker sues for Copyright Infringement over Inside Out Movie

The Disney and Pixar movie Inside Out (released in 2015) details the life of a girl named Riley along with five characters that represent five different emotions that influence her behavior (fear, anger, joy, disgust, and sadness). Canadian filmmaker Damon Pourshian has sued Disney, Pixar and other related companies claiming that the idea is actually his. Mr. Pourshian asserts that, while he was a student at Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario in 2000 he wrote a screenplay based on an idea he had in high school, concerning the life of a boy whose behavior is controlled by five personified organs that control his character: a brain, stomach, colon, bladder, and heart. Mr. Pourshian then produced a short film from this screenplay as a 14-minute low-budget production, which was subsequently shown at Sheridan College. His film was also titled Inside Out.

Mr. Pourshian seeks: a declaration that he owns the copyright to the screenplay, production and short film Inside Out, a declaration that the defendants infringed his copyright thorough the production, reproduction, and distribution of their film Inside Out, a permanent injunction, as well as damages.

Mr. Pourshian sued the defendants at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (ONSC). An initial issue was jurisdiction, and whether any of the defendants had a real and substantial connection to Ontario (therefore giving the ONSC jurisdiction over the dispute). A recent decision (Pourshian v. Walt Disney Company, 2021 ONSC 4840) released by the ONSC found that the majority of the defendants had a real and substantial connection to Ontario, therefore giving the green light for the case to proceed.

The case is a reminder of the importance of copyright protection, and the global protection that it provides (by virtue of the Berne Convention).

More information is available here.

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