Inside Out Inside Out

Disney lawyers are likely to be feeling a mixture of anger, sadness, and disgust after a copyright lawsuit concerning Pixar’s Inside Out was greenlit by a Canadian court. Following a successful appeal, filmmaker Damon Pourshian can now pursue his case against seven Disney subsidiaries in Ontario.

As a student at Sheridan College around 2000, Pourshian wrote and oversaw the production of a 14-minute live-action film also called Inside Out, which won a People’s Choice Award at an annual showcase. In the film, a boy’s personality is controlled by five of his internal organs, which come to life. Watch it below:

Pourshian claims that Pixar’s Oscar-winning 2015 feature, in which a girl’s emotions are embodied as colorful sprites, ripped off his concept and title, as well as many narrative details. He wants the court to recognize his copyright for his short film, and is seeking an injunction, damages, and for his name to be added to the credits.

Central to Pourshian’s case is the argument that Pixar and Disney have a close relationship with Sheridan College, and specifically that students who were at the school in 2000 went on to work on Inside Out.

The suit initially named the Walt Disney Company and eight subsidiaries as defendants. Much of the case hinges on whether the various defendants have a strong enough business connection to Ontario to come under the province’s jurisdiction. In 2019, a judge ruled that Ontario only had jurisdiction over three defendants: Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures, and Disney Shopping.

Pourshian’s appeal has reversed that ruling, the new decision stating that four more defendants can be sued: Disney Enterprises, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Disney has also been ordered to pay Pourshian $25,000 in legal costs because of his “substantially” successful appeal.

Entertainment lawyer Tara Parker told CTV’s Your Morning that “there is a lot at stake” in the lawsuit. She added that it will be tricky for Pourshian to prove a “substantial similarity” between the two films, as “we don’t have a ton of jurisprudence in Canada on these issues.” Two similar U.S. suits against Pixar’s film have failed.

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See our earlier coverage of the case

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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