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Disney cleared of copyright theft in Epcot ‘war of the worlds’

15 November 2004

The Walt Disney Co. has increasingly become a focus of cultural studies exposes which seek to examine the mysterious methods by which the world’s most influential corporation creates its powerful hold over kids’ imaginations. But this week it was finally released from the accusation that it had stolen the concept for Epcot, its ‘futuristic’ theme park, from a painting produced in the 1960s.

After a two year court battle, the judge, Patricia Fawsett, ruled that there was no evidence that Disney officials had access to a painting created by the late Mark Waters, whose estate sued the company in 2002 alleging infringement of intellectual property rights and breach of implied contract, stated a report by Associated Press.

The lawsuit contended that Waters rendered a painting in the early 1960s of ‘Miniature Worlds’, a theme park idea concept that was the brainchild of Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Jaffray, who knew Waters after they were both stationed in Hawaii. Jaffray claimed he presented the idea and the Miniature World painting to Disney officials during a meeting in 1962 or 1963, but that they had rejected the idea of a theme park based on the idea of 19 nations that would be represented in the form of 'international villages', and returned the drawing and other materials several months later.

Disney spokesman Bill Warren stated that the Epcot concept was developed by Disney’s creative executives over several decades, and that Epcot's development grew from the decision to create a "permanent world's fair" and a "city of tomorrow" to feature new technologies.


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