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Lessons in When to 'Let It Go' Part 2 -- The Case for Fan-Created Content

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on May 27, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Earlier this year we wrote a post about Starbucks and its smart non-reaction to a parody coffee shop called Dumb Starbucks, gleaning lessons in when to let it go.

A few months later, and Disney is teaching us a similar lesson -- and this time really, figuratively and literally, "Let It Go."

"Let It Go" Fan-Created Content

For those of you who don't know the reference, we're guessing you don't have a young child in your life. "Let It Go" is the now ubiquitous anthem of young girls channeling their inner-Elsa -- heroine of the hit movie "Frozen." I'll admit to singing along with my little one -- the song is infectious. Who can resist another listen (and yes, it's the video with the lyrics so you too can sing along)?

Apparently, many little girls across the country can't resist. "Let It Go" has spawned a rash of fan-created content with 60,000 fan versions of the song, with over 60 million views, according to The Wall Street Journal. The funniest version of the song is the Dad Parody, which again, if you have kids, you won't be able to listen to without cracking up.

Is Disney Letting Go of Intellectual Property?

Yes, and no. We think Disney is taking a realistic approach. Don't forget, they just requested time to investigate and file a notice of opposition to Deadmau5's trademark application. So why are they "letting it go" so to speak with "Let It Go?" Because, "the company now seems to realize that fan-created content -- even in cases where that content is generating revenue that is not captured by Disney -- is cross-promotional marketing that money can't buy," says Andrew Leonard of Salon.

This the real deal, grass roots marketing that companies crave, and as an attorney employed to protect that company's legal rights, you need to know the difference.

So what's the course of action? Should you let all infringement slide? Of course not. But, you should get in the habit of checking in with the marketing department, and the executive level, to see what intellectual property claims you want to pursue. It's best not to draw lines, and approach these things on a case-by-case basis. It's not easy to let it go, but sometimes it's for the best.

How does your company deal with fan-created content? Let us know on Facebook for FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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