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Disney Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Mega Hit Movie “Inside Out”

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


On June 18, 2018, The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary animation studio, Pixar, were served with a copyright infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California, because, Plaintiff claimed, defendants stole the idea behind its mega hit movie “Inside Out” from him.

In the complaint, Damon Pourshian, a Canadian filmmaker, details that in 2000, while he was a student at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada, he created a short film titled “Inside Out.” Pourshian’s film told the story of the everyday life of a young boy named Lewis through the prospective of his anthropomorphized bodily organs. Similarly, Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out” follows the everyday life of a young girl named Riley from the viewpoint of her anthropomorphized emotions. Disney•Pixar’s film was a huge commercial success for the company, generating $300 million at US box offices and over $800 million worldwide.

Pourshian argues that Disney copied his idea for “Inside Out” and outlines the strikingly similar plot details. Sheridan College, the plaintiff’s alma mater, is described in the complaint as being known internationally as “the Harvard of animation” with many of its graduates going to work for large animation studios, including Disney•Pixar. Pourshian argues that it is through many of his fellow Sheridan College alums that Disney•Pixar developed the idea for “Inside Out.”

In the suit, Pourshian demands that Disney hand over any profits made from the infringement of the plaintiff’s 2000 film and also add his name to the movie credits. 

The case is: Damon Pourshian v. The Walt Disney Co. et al., Case No.: 5:18-cv-03624, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.


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