If you have been on the internet at all in the past month, you’ve probably heard about (and seen) all the hype surrounding Disney’s new Star Wars spin-off / prequel, Solo: A Star Wars.
Hachim Bahous is a French artist from Lille, France. Last week, Bahous made a Facebook post showcasing the work he made in 2015 for Sony Music France’s release of several “The Legacy of…” albums alongside the new promotional posters for Solo:
After making the comparison, Bahous then went on to write (in French): “I am flattered that the quality of my work is recognized, but it is still pure and simple forgery, I have not been asked for my permission, I wish to be credited and paid for this work I have done for Sony!” You can see the full post on his Facebook page.
While there’s no suit on the books just yet, it is possible that Bahous could file a suit against Disney for the alleged plagiarism. If he did, it wouldn’t be the first time Disney has ever been accused of copying. In 2015, Muneefa Abdullah, the owner of the copyright to the book New Fairy Tales and, within it, the short story The Snow Princess, sued Disney with the claim that it had stolen the original copyrighted material in The Snow Princess to create Frozen. Disney won on its motion to dismiss the case in 2016, however, and Abdullah’s appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was not successful.
Alternatively, however, Bahous might not even have the right to sue Disney even if he made the art. In fact, it is more likely than not that Sony is actually the party that has the rights to the “The Legacy Of…” album cover art, not Bahous. If, for example, the album covers were created in the course of a work-for-hire agreement, Sony is the official, legal author of the album covers. In that case, only it would have the legal right to sue Disney for plagiarism- Bahous wouldn’t.
We can’t say who owns the art for sure because we don’t know the terms of the contract between Bahous and Sony. Not to mention the fact that French copyright law is bound to be different than U.S. copyright law. For now, we’ll have to wait and see if Disney will reach out to Bahous or Sony about this claim. Will Disney pull the posters? Will it ignore the accusations all together? Only time will tell.
Author, Caroline Womack, is a 2L at Quinnipiac University School of Law and primarily studies intellectual property law, focusing on video game and internet law.