Pirates of the Caribbean is a series of Disney films that depicts pirates who scavenged around the Caribbean seas. The protagonist in the series is a pirate named ‘Jack Sparrow’ who is played by actor Johnny Depp.
The concept of the Jack Sparrow character is quite different than the typical pirate. Sparrow is good-looking, charming and even quite funny!
Now, back in 2000, writers A. Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez Jr. submitted a script to Disney called Pirates of the Caribbean. In the screenplay, Alfred II and Martinez Jr. created the character they named ‘Davy Jones’ whose funny, and not feared – unlike the typical pirate.
Disney didn’t move forward with the project; however, the writers claim that their script had not been returned to them until 2 years later. This was already during the time production had started for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Last week on Tuesday, in a Colorado Federal Court, the duo brought a copyright infringement lawsuit against Disney stating that the setting, character, and even dialogue for their screenplay was used in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean.
Alfred II and Martinez Jr. claim that they “created an entirely new genre of pirate, which had never been used previously. A concept, such as Captain Jack Sparrow as a new funny pirate, who is not feared and is repeatedly referred to as a good man. The screenwriters’ intent was to veer from the historical depiction of pirates to create an entirely new concept of a pirate.”
Elizabeth M. Thomas, the attorney for the two plaintiffs said, “Pirates in film, while handsome or good-looking, have not been depicted as having a sense of humor, until ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’ in the Pirates franchise. This ‘new’ pirate, who is funny, not feared, and repeatedly referred to as a ‘good man’ has not only created a new pirate character, but created a Pirates franchise that has been wholly centered on this new pirate character.”
This, however, is not the first lawsuit against Disney for copyright infringement. Back in July, I wrote about the Inside Out copyright infringement case. You can read the entire blog here.
A spokesperson for Disney recently issued this statement: “This complaint is entirely without merit, and we look forward to vigorously defending against it in court.”
As I will continue to say on this blog, my advice is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

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