Disney Has Asked a California Elementary School to Cough up Cash for Screening ‘The Lion King’

Disney has made headlines once again. This time, they haven’t made headlines for stealing the idea of an artist or developing yet another hit television show or movie. They aren’t even in the news for their wildly popular theme parks. Instead, the company responsible for the most popular animated characters in history have made headlines for asking an elementary school to pay up for screening one of their films for students.

A school in Berkeley, California is being asked to fork over $250

It seemed like a simple fundraiser for a local elementary school. A father went to Best Buy and procured The Lion King on DVD. The film was shown to students to keep them occupied during family night at the school. Everything seemed to go just fine, according to the administration, but weeks later, they were contacted by Movie Licensing USA, the company that represents Walt Disney when it comes to licensing.

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July 19 #TheLionKing

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According to Berkeley Side, the school, Emerson Elementary, was informed that they had violated copyright laws and were liable for a $250 fee, the one-time licensing fee associated with showing the film.  Movie Licensing USA also gave Emerson Elementary the option of purchasing an annual licensing fee that would allow them to show Walt Disney productions at the school and in classrooms. The yearly fee costs more than $500 per year.

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How sweet!

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Administrators from Emerson Elementary are planning to pay the fee, albeit begrudgingly. There is no word on how Movie Licensing USA found out about the event, but apparently, part of the service they provide to major motion picture studios is following up on any and all copyright infringement cases. This is far from the first time Disney, in particular, has gone after schools and small outfits for copyright and trademark infringement.

Disney has sued everyone from Etsy Shop owners to Deadmau5

Disney isn’t merely going after small schools that use Walt Disney films for entertainment purposes. The company is pretty well known for being litigious. In 2014 the company famous for Mickey Mouse took issue with Deadmau5, a DJ. Deadmau5 attempted to trademark the signature headgear he wears on stage so he could use the image on licensed merchandise. Disney got wind of the request and filed an opposition. A year into the battle, they settled out of court, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Disney alleged that the headgear that Deadmau5 wears on stage too closely resembled the signature silhouette of Mickey Mouse and could cause confusion.

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hbd boss!

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Disney, and other major movie studios, have also spent a fair amount of time policing the artisans who utilize Etsy to sell their wares. There are countless stories about Etsy shops being shutdown because Disney issued cease and desist letters. Their litigious nature stretches back decades, though. In 1989, Disney was perceived as a modern-day (at that time) Scrooge for demanding three preschools paint over Disney characters that adorned the walls, according to the Chicago Tribune. They have also shut down school plays that utilized their music and issued stern warnings to schools who view their videos in class.

Disney has found itself on the other side of court cases, too

While Disney is busy asking elementary schools to pay up before they hit the play button, they’ve been on the other side of the equation, also. In fact, Disney is currently dealing with the potential fallout from their upcoming film, Onward. A San Francisco-based artist has accused Disney’s Pixar of utilizing images of her very unique van in their animated film without her permission. The lawsuit revolves around a customized van and the unicorn images that adorn it. In the movie, two elves, played by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, go on an adventure to find out about their family in a strikingly similar ride.

Pixar was also sued several times over their hit flick, Inside Out. Several writers and animators came forward to assert that they had previously developed the concept before the movie was released. The outcome of those cases remains unknown.