The Law Office of Robert L. Firth - July 2020

THE CASE THAT WAS FROZEN ON ARRIVAL THE WOMAN WHO SUED DISNEY FOR COPYING HER LIFE IN ‘FROZEN’

This is the story of a woman who just couldn’t let it go. It was the fall of 2014 — Dennis Rodman became friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie with Oscar winners at the Academy Awards became the most retweeted image of all time. And an author sued Disney for $250 million after she claimed that the company stole major elements of her published memoir to craft the movie “Frozen.” “Frozen”was released in November 2013 and saw massive box office success and critical acclaim. It seemed like Walt Disney Animation Studios was finally hitting their stride and catching up to Pixar movies’ quality animation and storytelling. Unfortunately, high-profile movie projects and financiers with deep pockets tend to attract all sorts of hullabaloo in the form of frivolous lawsuits. Author Isabella Tanikumi, whose only notable work to date is her 2011 memoir “Yearnings of the Heart,” sued Disney for an egregious $250 million after claiming that the winter wonderland adventures of Anna, Elsa, and Olaf were stolen straight from her memoir and her life and

violated copyright law. She cited 18 “similarities” to bolster her massive claim. For instance, Tanikumi claimed that both her book and the movie had stories of intense sisterly love, scenes under the moon, and talk about cold hearts. The tenuousness of the similarities alone would cause most people to dismiss Tanikumi’s claim like they would the ramblings of a red yarn- loving conspiracy theorist. And that’s just what the judge who oversaw the case did, granting Disney’s motion to dismiss. The judge stated that copyright law protects expressions but not ideas. The themes that Tanikumi believed Disney had stolen from her story were under public domain, usable by anyone without permission. Only Tanikumi herself knows for sure why she went through all that trouble. Everyone else will just have to speculate what gave her the gall to take on a media juggernaut like Disney in court with next to no viable case. That said, several reviews of her memoir on Amazon mention ties to “Frozen,” so make of that what you will.

BEWARE OF THESE CORONAVIRUS EMAIL SCAMS They’re Still Around!

While it seems like the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic might be behind us, that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down completely — especially when it comes to internet scams designed to prey on the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. It’s no surprise that scammers have found ways to use the coronavirus scare as an opportunity to steal personal information from the vulnerable. Fortunately, you can spot coronavirus scammers using the same techniques that help identify otherwise run-of-the-mill phishing scams. REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION When the federal government started distributing relief checks, several scammers sent out unsolicited emails, disguised as legitimate instructions, asking for personal information from people in order to receive their $1,200. Since many people have now received their checks, this particular scam may become less common, but always be suspicious of emails that ask for personal information, no matter the circumstances. SUSPICIOUS LINKS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES During the past few months, people’s email inboxes have been littered with advertisements for fake coronavirus tests and cures, fake alerts from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fake coronavirus updates. If you get an email containing an unusual link in your inbox, do not click on it — even if the email address looks

legitimate. Scammers use links to spread malware on computers, which helps them get your personal information.

SPELLING AND GRAMMAR MISTAKES This is usually a dead giveaway. While genuine, official updates about the coronavirus will be meticulously checked for spelling and grammar,

scammers aren’t as careful. Missing periods, misspelled words, and wacky syntax errors are all hallmarks of scam emails. Make sure you carefully read any email you’re not sure about.

If you can spot spelling and grammar mistakes, delete the email. Much like the coronavirus will remain in the American psyche long after cases and deaths have peaked, scammers will

continue using it as a means to steal from honest, hardworking Americans. But, if we keep our guard up, we can make sure they get absolutely nothing from their efforts.

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