Tiktok users are writing Ratatouille the musical. But who owns the copyright?

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The new hashtag #ratouillemusical has drawn so much attention on Tiktok as many Tiktok users partake in making a melodic Musical relating to Ratatouille,  the Disney/Pixar’s 2007 movie. The #ratouillemusical started after Emily Jacobsen, a school teacher in US compiled a ‘’ love ballad’’ in admiration of the civilized and human-like rat, Remy, with strong sense of smell and strong passion for cooking. Daniel Mertzlufft, a song composer reformed Jacobsen’s song to a more melodic sounds and vocals.

     The recreation of the song with more lovely vocals attracted so many Tiktok users and hence making the song a big musical hit. It wasn’t long before others joined the trending hashtag, composing melodies, planning sets, outfits, cosmetics etc. The hashtag went so viral, even Disney Parks Tiktok account posted a Hamilton-like rap about Remy’s aspirations to be a chef. Seeing how Disney reacted to the hashtags, what if they decide to compile all the written musical for presentation on the stage? Would they be able to do that? And also could Ratatouille the musical be a source of income for these talented Individuals?

Who owns the copyright?

Normally, all videos, songs and dance made by someone on Tiktok belongs to the individual, he owns the copyright of all the songs and dance. When different authors come together for a similar purpose, they all own the copyright of the work since copyright allows joint ownership. But is this the same for Tiktok users who look out for each other’s work consecutively?

       Considering the fact that different locations, copyrights and contract laws plays a big role in deciding copyright ownership. Most importantly the works of these Creators are based on Disney’s original movie and as such Disney has the right to sue the participants of this hashtag for using a character from their movie. Unlike Australia where people can make use of movie characters since they are not issued copyright, the United States, however impose copyright to their fictional characters if need be. But nevertheless, According to New York times, Disney had stated about their feeling towards the new hashtag. The company stated ‘’ we love when our fans engage in our stories’’

Who can get paid?

The terms and conditions of Tiktok allows users to own their copyright as regards to the platform but however this terms and conditions are broad and difficult as users gives Tiktok the permission to share, change or copy their work. This also means that users can allow and share contents with companies like Disney so far as the contents are personal and not for commercial purposes. It is not really certain what the personal use would contain but also Tiktok users reject any form of compensation or payment for their work unless written in the terms of service. The terms and conditions also implies that Tiktok users do not need attribution of any such for their work unlike in Australia where attribution might be required. Furthermore, if the Disney company decides to use the work of any user, no compensation or attribution is required.

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