Disney And Pixar Sued For Alleged ‘Inside Out’ Copyright Infringement

Author Carla J. Masterson filed a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company and Disney-owned Pixar, claiming her children's books inspired Inside Out, The Wrap reports.

Masterson filed in federal court in Nevada on Thursday in a suit claiming the 2015 animated hit film infringes on "What's on the Other Side of the Rainbow?" and "The Secret of the Golden Mirror."

Both works "are original, creative, and artistic stories about how children identify, understand the reasons for, and manage the effects of their emotions," the suit reads.

"The specific original, artistic, and creative expression and device used by Carla J. Masterson in 'What's On the Other Side of the Rainbow?' and 'The Secret of the Golden Mirror' is to depict the childhood emotions of Joy, Fear, Sad, Anger, Laughter, Friendship, Love, and Shy as characters that appear throughout the book in consistent and continuing configurations and colors."

Inside Out tells the story of an 11-year-old girl whose anthropomorphized emotions — Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust — help guide the girl through a life-changing move to San Francisco.

According to the suit, an illustrated version of "What's on the Other Side off the Rainbow?" was distributed in gift bags for Emmys ceremonies in 2010 and Oscar ceremonies in 2011, where "many Disney executives and affiliated persons were in attendance... and had access to gift bags that included Carla J. Masterson's book."

"The animated movie 'Inside Out' and its characters are substantially similar to original and protected elements of Carla J. Masterson's copyrighted works, in both the use of its individual components and its combination of components into a single story," the suit claims.

Pixar's Toy Story 3 was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Film at the 83rd Academy Awards in 2011, taking home gold in the latter category.

Masterson's complaint notes she's suffered an economic loss "far in excess of $75,000" and is seeking unspecified damages.

The suit says the defendants have earned more than $1 billion in gross revenues and hundreds of millions in net profits from a combination of box office ticket sales, home media, merchandise and licensing. Inside Out grossed $857 million at the worldwide box office in 2015, making it the sixth highest-grossing film of that year, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Picture.

Disney was previously sued over Inside Out last June by child development expert Denise Daniels, who alleged she pitched a TV project to Disney and Pixar executives that bore a resemblance to the Pixar production.

Daniels' suit said she produced a 2005 pilot for The Moodsters, intended to help children understand their feelings by way of characters representing the emotions happiness, sadness, love, fear, and anger.

"Inside Out was an original Pixar creation and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court," a Disney spokesperson said at the time.

Writer-director Pete Docter said in 2015 the genesis for Inside Out came in 2009 when his daughter turned 11 and underwent a personality change.

"She became a lot more reclusive and quiet," the filmmaker told an audience at the L.A. Film Festival (via Variety).

"We didn't literally get eye-rolls, because she knew that would get her in trouble, but she gave off that kind of feeling. And that got me wondering, 'What's going on in her head?' That's when I thought of emotions as characters. This could be exactly what animation does best. And that's what led us on this five-year journey." Docter won his second Academy Award for his work on the film.


Daniels' infringement case was dismissed in January.

Inside Out and its beloved characters will be represented in the soon-to-open Pixar Pier section of Disney California Adventure Park, which will include the Angry Dogs hotdog stand and Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff confectionery. Pixar Pier debuts at the Disneyland Resort June 23.