Disney plundered a copyright owned by other people in creating its hugely successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise, according to a lawsuit filed by writers Arthur Lee Alfred II, E. Ezequiel Martinez Jr. and their producer Tova Laiter.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Colorado on Tuesday, alleges that Disney committed “willful infringement of Plaintiff’s original copyrighted expression of themes, settings, dialogue, characters, plot. mood [and] sequence of events contained in an original spec screenplay entitled ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.'”
The suit contends that Laiter presented the screenplay to Disney executive Brigham Taylor in August 2000.
“Taylor suggested that the idea of a film based on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride had been suggested over the years and that the Defendants had considered making a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride recently,” the suit reads. “However, Taylor expressly stated to Laiter that the Defendants ‘had no treatment or script.'”
Taylor later said that the “Pirates” screenplay was being passed on, according to the suit, which adds that the screenplay wasn’t returned until more than two years later, at which point “Defendants were already in production on the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.”
The initial “Pirates” film, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” contains “similarities” to the spec screenplay, the suit says, and the “similarities have continued throughout the entire ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise.”
“Themes, settings, plot, several characters, and dialogues from The Screenplay, some practically verbatim, have been copied by the Defendants into ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,’ and in every subsequent sequel, including the 2017 release of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the suit states.
TheWrap has reached out to Disney for comment on the lawsuit.
Alleging multiple claims of infringement of copyright, the suit seeks unspecified damages.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.