In the shadow of the mouse
If Disney sues over 'Escape From Tomorrow,' nobody wins
Published: January 30, 2013
We contacted Walt Disney World public relations to ask for comment on Escape From Tomorrow, but even after talking to two representatives who promised to return our calls and emails, we had no comment from the corporate office as of press time. Even our questions asking for general clarification of the terms of admission to the parks or Disney's policy on filming on its property were ignored. And we're not the only ones – so far, Disney has refused to comment to any media outlet at all, except to acknowledge that it knows that the film exists.
Maybe that's because the company knows that, while it may not like the film that Moore and company put together, and may not agree with how they executed it, it wouldn't be in anyone's best interests to make a big production over it. Particularly because, as Wu points out in his New Yorker piece, while Disney certainly has the resources to sue, Moore's movie is more than likely going to be considered fair use by a court.
"Though the filmmakers may have committed trespass when they broke Disney World's rules and if it violated the terms of entry on their tickets, the film itself is a different matter," Wu writes. "As commentary on the social ideals of Disney World, it seems to clearly fall within a well-recognized category of fair use, and therefore probably will not be stopped by a court using copyright or trademark laws."
So if Disney did sue, it'd be less about making a legitimate infringement case and more about using its unlimited resources to censor an artist and create a chilling effect that would keep anyone from trying to pull off such a stunt again. That might not be in the company's best interest, says Rapp.
"[Escape] has gotten enough publicity that maybe Disney will back off, lest it end up looking like a bully again," he says.
It wouldn't be in the public's best interest either.
"Disney would surely have preferred that Moore and his team have asked for permission before making the film. But it seems unlikely to have been granted," Wu writes. "And a world where Disney gets to determine everything said about Disney World would be a poor place indeed."
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