Demi Lovato, Idina Menzel, and Disney are amongst the defendants who were sued over the hit song, “Let It Go,” featured in the popular 2013 Disney film, Frozen. Disney produced the song for the film and it was performed by Menzel who sang the track in her role as Queen Elsa. Disney later asked Lovato to record the tune as a radio single. Publisher Wonderland Music Co. Inc. and the song’s writers, Kristen and Robert Lopez, were also named as defendants.
The complaint was filed by Jaime Ciero, a Chilean musician who claims that “Let It Go” infringes on his musical work entitled, “Volar,” which he released in 2008. Ciero alleges that the two songs bear similarities “so striking as to preclude the possibility that the latter song was independently created.” The complaint, filed on November 23 in the Central District of California, alleges claims of direct and secondary copyright infringement and a violation of 17 U.S.C. § 1202, a prohibition against tampering with or falsifying “copyright management information.” The claim made under 17 U.S.C. § 1202 alleges that the defendants removed any digital identifiers or links to such information that established Ciero was the author and owner of “Volar.” Ciero claims the use of “Let It Go” in connection with the film added “substantial value to the film and resulted in substantial added revenue to Defendants.” As a result, he seeks restitution, specifically a portion of Frozen’s profits, which are reported to be roughly $1.3 billion. Ciero also seeks an injunction requiring defendants to cease promoting the song.
“Let It Go” has been the subject of a lawsuit before. In 2014, a Peruvian author sued Disney, claiming that the movie’s plot ripped off her memoir about growing up in Peru. A New Jersey federal judge dismissed the suit in February 2015, finding that the works were “entirely different.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the order of the District Court on September 29, 2015.
The hit song won Best Original Song at the 2014 Academy Awards and the film became the fifth-highest grossing film of all time back in May 2014. Counsel for Ciero stated, “The similarities between Mr. Ciero’s ‘Volar’ and the Lopezes’ ‘Let It Go’ are so striking that they can only be the result of copying.”