Cheerdance championship title winner National University saw Sunday’s competition in the Philippines as a celebration. A Walt Disney Company marketing official on the other hand saw it as a way to ask the university to pay copyright fees.
NU, which earned a back-to-back championship title from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines cheerdance competition since last year, used Pocahontas and Aladdin as themes for the competition, both of which were popularized by Walt Disney.
Disney’s legal team and marketing officers have known of this copyright issue since last year, after having been informed of the news via news websites online.
Once again, they came to know of the university’s winning today, as well as the repeated use of Disney themes, via an email sent to the company.
“We woke up with the news of this local university winning a cheerdance title using our own Pocahontas as theme,” Disney said in a statement. “Last year, they used Aladdin. we would have let it pass but to use another Disney theme again? We don’t think that’s fair.”
Because of this, Walt Disney Company threatens to file copyright law suits to NU, if corresponding fees will not be paid soon.
“We have measures and rules if an organization plans to use our movies or our songs,” the management further said.
One way to legally use Disney characters is by getting permission to use them from Disney Enterprises. A variety of Disney corporate entities own the intellectual property rights to Disney characters.
An organization or a group may receive permission in the form of a letter or an email message. Disney may require an individual or organization that wants to make extended commercial use of Disney characters to enter into a licensing agreement where the user pays Disney for rights to use the character. Disney may also refuse to give you permission to use its characters.
This year’s cheerdance competition is NU twice in a row, using Aladdin and Pocahontas as themes, respectively. Champions for this year’s competition won money and sponsor gifts as prizes.
“The costumes, the songs, the theme, they are clearly Disney, and we just can’t let any big organization use our intellectual properties like public toilets,” said one Disney official.
“Walt Disney has always worked hard to create characters and stories that get popularized among all ages,” he added. “Using them to earn something outside of our boundaries is clearly a breach of intellectual property rights.”