Disney Sued For Copyright Infringement: Was “Wreck-It Ralph” Stolen?

Back in November of 2012, Disney released what would be a very successful full length feature film, that was a throwback to the retro video game world. When “Wreck-It Ralph” was released in theaters, it brought in a lot of revenue for the company, and was considered to be a success not only at the box office, but in home video sales as well. However, this success story has now been tampered with. It has been reported that a man from Texas has filed a lawsuit against the corporate giant, claiming that some of the ideas used in the film, which were copyrighted, were stolen after the concept was brought to Disney executives, only to have those ideas be rejected.

In the film, “Wreck-It Ralph” is the villain of the game “Fix-It Felix”. In this game, Ralph destroys a residential building, while Felix uses his powerful hammer to rebuild what Ralph destroys. During the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the game, Ralph is not invited to the party, because “nobody loves the bad guy.” Ralph decides to win a medal to become a hero and he goes to the game Hero’s Duty, commanded by the tough Sergeant Calhoun, where he sees the chance of winning the medal. Ralph collects the aimed medal, but when he is returning to his game, he accidentally brings enemy Cy-Bug with him. Ralph crashes his plane in the kart racing game Sugar Rush, losing the medal in the process. When he is ready to retrieve it, annoying glitch Vanellope von Schweetz takes the medal and uses it to dispute a kart racing in her game. All the while, Felix is seeking out Ralph to tell him that their game will be shut down since he is missing. Felix meets Sergeant Calhoun that tells him that the Cy-Bug would destroy any game and he immediately falls in love with her. (No more spoilers for those that may not have seen it!)

The film was a very big success for Disney, when it was released in select theaters on November 2, 2012. With a budget of $165 million, “Wreck-It Ralph” made over $471 million in the box office worldwide, not including home video sales. In addition, the movie was in the top 10 for seven weeks, and while dropping out of the top 20 for a few weeks, was in the top 20 at various times over the course of 16 weeks. The success continued in the world of home video, being available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy, as well as having a video game be released based on the film for various video game consoles. Homebrew video game titles were also created for a variety of retro consoles, including a well received version of “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” getting released for the Sega Genesis. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Animated Picture“, but ultimately lost out to “Brave”.

However, this success has triggered something new for Disney: A lawsuit. It has now been reported that The Walt Disney Company is being sued by a man from Texas by the name of Dyke Robinson. Filed by the Texas federal courts last week, Robinson claims that the company stole the idea for “Wreck-It Ralph” from him. He states that he submitted a manuscript to Disney in early 2012, (called “Digiland”), which was copyrighted by Robinson himself. Previously, Digiland had been a series of books published by Robinson. This manuscript submission, which was suggested to be an animated television series, was rejected by Disney executives. Robinson alleges that Disney “created derivative works from his own, thus infringing his rights as well as his registered copyright.” The film featured the voices of Sarah Silverman, John C. Reilly, and Jane Lynch among others, and Robinson claims also that Disney had used his proposal to create the Sugar Rush environment in the film. Robinson is seeking the maximum permitted $10 million in statutory damages.

(The preceding article was originally published on November 10, 2015 by Kris Lane via Retro Game Network, being cross-published for the benefit of Gravis Ludus readers.)

Kris Lane

When you get right down to it, Kris Lane has a variety of unique hobbies, but it's really quite simple: You see, if it plugged into an outlet, and it was made in the eighties, he's pretty much hooked. He was also freaked out by those old tests of the Emergency Broadcast System. Totally hated those things. So what exactly is a person that is stuck in the eighties, living in the modern world, supposed to do to survive? I suggest that we find out together!

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