One of Disney’s most successful live-action franchises is, easily, Pirates of the Caribbean. The films — the first of which was released in 2003 — starred Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth Swann. The films were full of action and comedy, and the first was so successful that Disney created 4 more. Captain Jack, along with Captain Barbossa, were also incorporated into the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
The Walt Disney Company has some of the most creative minds on the planet but, according to a 2017 lawsuit, those creative minds did not come up with the idea for Pirates of the Caribbean. Writers Arthur Lee Alfred II and E. Ezequiel Martinez Jr. and Tova Laiter claim that they met with Disney and pitched the idea for Pirates. At the time, Laiter claimed that Disney told her that they had no treatment (AKA outline) or script in the works for a movie based on the popular theme park ride.
Laiter claims that Disney did not return the script presented to them by Laiter, Alfred, and Martinez Jr. until two years later — when Disney was actively working on the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. The lawsuit filed by the three accused Disney of “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 lawsuit also stated:
“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.”
According to a report from The Wrap, after nearly 5 years, Disney has settled the infringement lawsuit.
Disney on Wednesday settled a copyright lawsuit from 2017 that alleged that the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies infringed upon the plaintiffs’ copyrighted original spec script.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Copyright claims against successful Hollywood projects are common, but judgments and settlements are rare.
As is common with litigation, Disney did not comment on the lawsuit or the settlement.