Frozen was and is a bona fide pop culture phenomenon. It made $1.2 billion at the box office and an astonishing $5.3 billion in merchandising: even five years after the film’s release two of the top-selling kid’s Halloween costumes are Anna and Elsa. But is this success borne on the back of plagiarism?
Jamie Ciero, a Chilean singer/songwriter, thinks so and has filed a lawsuit against Disney which claims the hit song “Let It Go” is derivative of his 2008 song “Volar.” Also named in the suit are Idina Menzel (who sang the song in the movie), Demi Lovato (who recorded the single) and, well, pretty much anyone involved in the song and film’s production.
Take a look at the two tracks below and see what you think:
I guess I can kind of hear a similarity in the chorus, but listening to them back to back, it seems like a stretch for Ciero to claim that Disney straight plagiarized his song. Granted, if he did win this case he’d be set for life, as he wants a piece of the movie’s profits, the merchandising profits, etc.
I usually try to side with the little guy against the corporate behemoth, but in this instance, it’s difficult not to see Ciero as chancing his luck with this suit. Looking at it a little more cynically, publicizing the case is a great way to get millions upon millions of hits for your obscure indie song and scare up a bit of royalties.
Either way, this isn’t the first time Frozen has been sued. In 2014, New Jersey author Isabella Tanikumi filed a $250m lawsuit for copyright infringement against Disney, claiming that Frozen plagiarized her autobiography Yearnings of the Heart. Perhaps due to Tanikumi not having magical ice-based superpowers, the case was thrown out. I suspect Ciero’s suit will meet a similar fate. But who knows?