Disney Sued Over 'Pirates of the Caribbean'

Plundering may be what pirates do, but a pair of screenwriters are now claiming that it's Disney [...]

Plundering may be what pirates do, but a pair of screenwriters are now claiming that it's Disney doing the stealing when it comes to Pirates of the Caribbean.

Deadline reports screenwriters A. Lee Alfred II and Ezequiel Martinez Jr. are suing the Walt Disney Company, alleging that the company stole "copyrighted expression of themes, settings, dialogue, characters, plot, mood, sequences of events" from a 2000 spec script they wrote titled Pirates of the Caribbean. The screenwriters claim that they had submitted their script while working for Disney on the never-made Red Hood film project.

In the claim, the writers and their producer, Tova Laiter, state that they worked closely with Disney's Brigham Taylor, Josh Harmon, and Michael Haynes among others and even claim that Disney assisted the pair in getting into the Writers Guild. However, the pair claim that after they gave Disney a script for Pirates of the Caribbean and a sizzle reel in 2000, the relationship with the studio soured with the pair being paid for their work on Red Hood after a copy of the screenplay and artwork was allegedly seen on a coffee table in Taylor's office. The claim also alleges that after, Laiter was told by Taylor that Disney would be passing on the project.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl debuted in theaters to box office success in 2003, launching a franchise whose most recent installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, premiered earlier this year.

According to Alfred and Martinez's lawsuit, their original work was "intentionally copied and commercially exploited by [Disney], creating a billion-dollar franchise, with no credit or compensation" the to the writers. However, the filing also notes that the writers were told that Taylor had told them "that the idea of a film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride had been suggested over the years" and that Disney had considered it again recently.

This is not the first time the House of Mouse has been sued over claims that they stole someone else's ideas. Earlier this year, Disney was sued by Total Recall writer Gary L. Goldman over Zootopia, but the case was later dismissed.