PIXAR Is Being Sued Over The Van Used In The Film “Onward”

Artist Sweet Cecily Daniher has filed a lawsuit against Disney, Pixar and “Onward” producer Kori Rae over the unlawful use of a van mural that she created. The van can be seen in the upcoming Disney*Pixar film “Onward” and has already been displayed in marketing and trailers for the film.

Daniher created her mural (below) on the side of a 1972 Chevy G10 van, back in 2014. The mural was inspired by her love for unicorns and she named her completed project “The Vanicorn”.

The van seen in “Onward” does bear a striking resemblance to the one that Daniher created (below), with one exception. The van used in “Onward” displays a Pegasus instead of a unicorn.

According to Daniher, Pixar did rent the van from her for a special event back in 2018. She was never informed by Pixar that her Vanicorn would be used in the movie “Onward”. Once she discovered that the van was being used for the marketing of the film, she was contacted by the producer who apologized and admitted that a mistake was made.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

On June 3, she posted the image again with this caption: “Well, &^#! The producer of ‘Onward’ just called me. She wanted to know HOW I’M FEELING…(?!) and to apologize…. she also wanted to tell me that they rented my van without disclosing their full intentions, or plans, and she’s sorry for that too.”
In the complaint, Daniher says Rae apologized and admitted they intentionally didn’t inform her that they intended to use the Vanicorn as a character in Onward because, at the time, the film didn’t have a title and without a title they couldn’t have her sign a non-disclosure agreement.
Daniher is suing for copyright infringement, violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act and violation of the California Artists Protection Act. In addition to seeking damages, Daniher is asking the court for an injunction barring defendants from distributing, marketing or selling infringing advertisements, merchandise and the film itself and she wants a declaration that defendants’ related copyrights are invalid.

Source: THR

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Melissa W.
Melissa W.
8 months ago

Ehh..it resembles the real-world van, sure, but it’s not like-for-like? I can’t really say much on how art can resemble another’s work without infringing on it, but not sure she really has much of a case. If the producer really did call and say those things (which doesn’t seem very professional?), then maybe she has a leg to stand on (did she record these calls?). Otherwise, I think she’s just grasping. Is she the only one in the world with this particular van make/model/color? Because that’s the biggest similarity. Otherwise it just looks like another painted van that I’ve seen… Read more »

Brad W
Brad W
8 months ago

While the two are similar enough that you could say that the van in Onward was inspired and probably based on her van, I don’t think there is enough similarities to actually win a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Most likely I see Disney/Pixar settling to put this past them and avoiding a costly trial.

Amber
Amber
8 months ago

Next: Disney being sued by Firestone for having tires on the van that look similar to tires produced in 2001

Gina
Gina
8 months ago

I think she should be a good sport & just ask for money from the merchandise sales but not to ban merchandise sales. I would be more flattered at such a thing than incensed.

Mollyscribbles
Mollyscribbles
8 months ago
Reply to  Gina

Yeah — if she wanted, like, a cut of the mug sales (with the mug that’s directly based on the van), that’d be entirely within reason. That said, I can get that she’s annoyed they didn’t work something out beforehand.

Jerrod
Jerrod
8 months ago

She’s a terrible artist who should be grateful for the publicity.

Mandy
Mandy
8 months ago

If she wins, that can buy a lot of van candy!

kmr
kmr
8 months ago

Do the right thing and pay her. You’re Pixar, you have a trillion dollars. Settle with the poor girl.

Cesar Alejandro vargas
Cesar Alejandro vargas
8 months ago

She can’t be serious? Is she serious? Oh she’s serious!? Jesus christ people will do and say anything to feel attacked and used by anyone for money

Melissa W.
Melissa W.
8 months ago

I really dislike how “celebrities” or people with a following will take their grievances to social media to cause an uproar. It seems to be all just because they think they will have influence on their followers to make the outcome better in their favor, but I feel like it just makes them look like terrible people. It’s just another form of bullying.

Bryan
Bryan
8 months ago

It’s hardly an original concept. And pixar’s version isn’t similar enough to warrant a lawsuit. Just Google Images “unicorn van”

Disney's Perpetual Copyright
Disney's Perpetual Copyright
8 months ago

They literally rented her Van to copy elements of the artwork for their movie, have apparently reached out to her to apologize for it, and they likely be selling merchandise featuring this van and that artwork. She’s definitely got a case, the biggest question is what was in the contract regarding the original rental.

Andy
Andy
8 months ago

There is no evidence that they rented her van to copy it. They didn’t need to rent it to do that anyway, they could have just looked at pictures or found it in her driveway and taken their own pictures. And, they didn’t copy it. They have a different artwork on their van. Van’s with paintings are in no way original. There’s no evidence that they reached out to apologize for copying it. Only the plantiff makes any claim about this, and even then it’s only to say that they didn’t tell her at the time there was a SIMILAR… Read more »

Skywise
Skywise
8 months ago

Normally I’d side with Pixar here but – They rented her van at Pixar while the movie was under development and if the producer actually did tell her they used her van as a prototype then she’s got a case.

Andy
Andy
8 months ago
Reply to  Skywise

Uh, no. Just because they rented her van doesn’t mean she has a case. The didn’t copy it, they simply make their own version of it, which is not even remotely original as a concept. Painted 70’s vans with horses were very popular. Does GM also get some money because they used the “concept” of a Chevy van?

Cermet
Cermet
8 months ago

Even if they couldn’t do a NDA, couldn’t they come up with some legal statement? Just ask, “hey, is it okay if we use your van in a movie?” and then have her sign a paper that says “Pixar has my permission to use my artwork in their films”. Obviously I’m not a legal expert but I feel like there could’ve been something that could’ve been done. Disney has top-notch lawyers and I’m sure this isn’t the first time they’ve borrowed from other artists.

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago

I manage consumer brands that are sold at nationwide retailers like Walmart and Kroger. Our marketing agencies rent/buy/use resources like this all of the time for inspiration and ad/product development. We have these partners sign agreements that say we have the right to use your image/likeness for the purpose of promotion and sales and you will not receive royalties. We protect our butts by not signing contracts for services/things that are copyrighted.

Andy
Andy
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Signing for image and likeness is different: that’s for using people’s ACTUAL photographs. Disney didn’t use any photograph.

The concept of a blue 70s van isn’t copyrighted, and never will be, so they owe her nothing.

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago
Reply to  Andy

I don’t disagree

Juan
Juan
8 months ago

Ummmm… I’ve seen both unicorns and horses painted on the side of vans with a small novelty window toward the back since the 70s… this “artist” is crazy if she thinks this some sort of new, original concept.