Frozen Lawsuit Currently Remains Cold

  • Jun 17 2018
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  • Category: Blog

If you haven’t yet heard the Academy-award winning song, “Let it Go” from the hit Disney movie, Frozen, odds are you may be living under a rock — one under which millions of parents would kill to hide out. What you may not have heard about married songwriting duo, Bobby Lopez and Krista Anderson-Lopez’s, contagious melody, is that their Best Original Song has been accused of not being, well…original. In November, 2017 a lawsuit was filed against Disney, Idina Menzel, Demi Lovato, Lopez, and Anderson-Lopez, among others. Despite songwriter, Jaime Ciero’s claim that the grandiose ballad has infringed upon his Chilean song, “Volar,” Lopez and Alderson-Lopez have been “let go” (see what I did there?) from the lawsuit due to the fact that the statute of limitations has already run its course.

Under Federal law, someone can bring suit for a copyright infringement within three years after the infringement is first discovered. This is done to help prevent the deterioration or disappearance of evidence prior to when the case is heard in court. Ciero, who has alleged that there are “striking similarities” between both tracks, including their hooks and melodies, believes that the combinations are almost identical. He therefore insists that the popular hit song has been lifted from much of his work and has asked the court to stop future performances of “Let it Go” and to force the two writers to hand over their mega-profits.

The attorneys representing the Frozen team have discredited Ciero’s case due to the fact that the clock ran out for him to recover for infringement, as he waited four years before claiming such. In November 2013 the movie was released internationally, giving the plaintiff ample time to “discover” the infringement by the statute’s deadline in November, 2016. There is further indication that Ciero learned of the song prior to November 23, 2014 (three years before he actually filed suit). In his complaint, he shared his observation that the song was “widely successfully marketed, distributed, and monetized in [Los Angeles] and elsewhere in the United States and the rest of the world.” If he was aware of the marketing efforts, it only seems likely that he would have also been aware of the song.

Although it seems as though all is right in the Disney-loving world, the songwriting duo may not quite be off the hook. Sure, Ciero has been barred from claiming discovery of the song past November 23, 2014, but that doesn’t prevent him from bringing suit due to new performances. Under copyright law, every time a work is infringed upon, it creates a new cause of action and gives rise to a separate statute of limitations, starting the clock over again. This means that each and every time the new Frozen Broadway musical is performed, it is a new case of alleged infringement and he starts fresh with three years to file.

The court has agreed to give Ciero the opportunity to amend his initial complaint but to ensure that he includes “all factual allegations supporting his claims…” Ironically, the amended complaint is due June 11, the very day after this year’s Tony awards. It should be interesting to see what is to come.