Was Disney Channel’s High School Musical a stolen idea?

Was Disney Channel’s High School Musical a stolen idea? Paul Cozby thinks so. Cozby penned a musical of the same name and general plot (for instance; football player in Cozby’s version, basketball in Disney’s) and even owns the domain name HighSchoolMusical.com, which Disney tried to buy. This story on CBS11TV doesn’t give enough details to know if Cozby has a legitimate claim, but I find it very interesting on how many similarities there are.

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11 thoughts on “Was Disney Channel’s High School Musical a stolen idea?

  1. whit

    Everytime something does well there is somebody else claiming it was their idea first, from E.T. to The DaVinci Code.

    I’ll believe it when the courts do.

  2. Ceronomus

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter if the idea was stolen or not. Similar ideas are put forth all the time. Indeed, the more we are connected, the more we share ideas and inspirations, the harder it is to really stand apart.

    All that matters is if it is similar enough for a court to find in favor of him. It doesn’t matter if Disney ripped him off or not.

  3. David Eklove

    Paul Cozby probably sent Disney a copy of the script, which they accepted, but modified certain parts to avoid the exact problem. I’s kind of like me if Microsoft took Word Perfect, made some changes and called it Word and sold it as such. No matter what, I support Disney cause I love “High School Musical”.

  4. Flaminfish

    First off, it is highly unlikely that Cozby sent a copy of the script to Disney. It sounds more like that Cozby had his success with the play in the Fort Worth area, and then set aside to pursue other things. Second, you can’t base your opinion on the fact that you really “love ‘High School Musical'”. That just makes your opinion overly biased. I agree that yes, sometimes great things can independently come from separate places, but that normally comes from more concrete objects and ideas. For example, people who are working in the same fields of science often will come up with very similar ideas or inventions because they are working off of the backs of the people that came before them, and are thus studying the same reference materials, and using the same information. Similar phenomena can happen in a cultural environment, if there is a hard-pressed issue, or popular idea. An example of this would be two different companies making the same style of product, for the same consumer group, but on opposite ends of the American Coast.
    The situation with Cozby and Disney seems much less likely.
    First off, it is highly unlikely that Cozby and Disney would both decide that it would be grand to make a production that involved, for the most part, the exact same situation. I mean, it was not like they were researching existing plays, and style trends, although Disney might have, and saying, to themselves, “With the combination of this, and this, I will produce a successful production.” I don’t believe so. Although it could be a possibility, it is highly unlikely.
    Second, even if Disney did come up with this concoction on their own, all by themselves, they should have researched to make sure that there was no pre-existing version of their production. In the CBS interview, it states that Disney did unsuccessfully attempt to by the website from Cozby. Although that CBS does not mention the time of the attempted purchase, it is clear that Disney was aware of another, pre-existing version of the play, and did nothing about it, aside from buying the website.
    I have seen neither of the two productions, so I do not know exactly how similar they are. I do know this though. The life of the Disney Corporation would not be threatened by sharing some profit with the Cozbys. It is not like that Disney’s production is their bread and butter, their golden child that wholly supports the company. Would the world whither up and die if Disney lost this lawsuit, I think not. Disney should watch some of their own movies, you know, the ones that teach about sharing, and family values, and stuff like that.

  5. Chance

    Well that is ridiculous. If I were to make a play I wouldn’t spend hours trying to find if there was another like it. That is not generally on peoples mind as they make, in their mind, a masterpiece! There is no law forcing them to research for plays. So why would they think about it?

  6. Bulldog

    “If I were to make a play I wouldn’t spend hours trying to find if there was another like it.”

    Then again, you’re not Walt Disney Corporation. Invalid comparison; Disney has the means to ensure that they do not violate intellectual property rights, and I’m sure their lawyers are currently busily plugging away to avoid paying money to the original author of High School Musical.

  7. Ashleigh

    I think we should all remember that if it is ripped off, then it wouldn’t be the first time Disney has ripped of a TV show, book, manga or movie. How much do you love the Lion King, for instance? Because although it is my all-time favourite movie and musical (as i saw it on the West End whilst in London), it is possibly one of the world’s biggest cases of plagiarism, despite Osuma Tezuka choosing not to sue Disney. I’ll give you a little hint. Go to your local Blockbuster, or whatever the hell you rent movies from,pick up copies of Stagate (the movie, not the series), Laputa:Castle in the Sky and Kimba the White Lion, then pick up The Lion King and Atlantis:The Lost Empire. then come back on here and talk about Disney ripping something off…there’s also a novel that i personally have not read, but have heard that it is almost identical to the Disney movie ‘The Village’…I think it’s called ‘Running out of time’.
    so if you want to discuss Disney plagiarism, I’m all ears…

  8. Colin

    I am familiar with works (I was actually in the staged production summer 2005) and there is NO QUESTION that the similarities are more than just the product of similar thinking. I could tell you the exact similarities, but they are too many to name. It’s abundantly clear to me that the guy was ripped off.

    I admit that it wasn’t the freshest idea to begin with. Musicals about musicals are written all the time. But it’s the same work. A lot of people are ripping the poor guy for just wanting in on the action. But take my word for it, he has a damn good case.

  9. colormenow

    Disney – do the right thing. Disney fights long and hard when others use their material and do not give them credit, and yet in this case they choose not to empathize. All of the films and characters Disney has created protray the message you should do the right thing. By taking the low road Disney is damaging how generations view what use to be one of the more creative giants.

  10. hayley

    i loved the second film it was great ive watched it 16 times and in the middle of watching it the now because i taped it.i love the songs i really like fabulous and you are the music in me. i wish u could just hav a website just with the script because our school was gona do this play but we dont hav a script.

  11. Briana

    If I remember correctly, Mr. Cozby’s version of the musical was first performed in 2004 or 2005. I even remember sitting in their living room listening to a song he’d written for it around November of 2003. Whoever said the idea isn’t terribly original may be right. But I think the similarities, not just in the story but the wording of the songs, are far too many to simply be a coincidence…

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