When Big Cat Rescue’s credibility comes under fire they occasionally trot out their successful lawsuit against a competitor that infringed on their trademark and copyrighted property. For those of us that aren’t so easily impressed, it’s woefully obvious that they only do that to make themselves appear more effective than they actually are. So you can understand why I find entertainment in seeing Big Cat Rescue infringing on The Walt Disney Company’s intellectual property in a way that doesn’t seem compliant with fair use.
While scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across an ad belonging to Big Cat Rescue. The sponsored ad promoted their deceptive $9.00 a month program called Zoo College which, as a matter of fact, is not part of any standard college or university degree program and isn't accepted by reputable zoos.
Big Cat Rescue's ad utilizes The Walt Disney Company’s Zootopia movie trailer in all of its entirety, albeit with a few big changes.
One of the more notable edits Big Cat Rescue made to the movie trailer is the Zoo College logo located at the bottom right corner.
Key components that identify The Walt Disney Company as the owner and creator of the trailer have been purposefully removed and replaced by Big Cat Rescue's Zoo College logo and website name.
I'm under the impression that what Big Cat Rescue did is not protected by fair use since they didn't use the trailer for criticism, news reporting, or educational purposes. In fact, they made no significant changes to Disney's original work in a way that transformed it into something completely new. All they did was remove the parts that credited Disney and slapped on their Zoo College logo.
Big Cat Rescue seems to be fully aware of their actions since they uploaded the trailer to Vimeo and Facebook instead of Youtube in what can only be an attempt at avoiding a copyright strike by Disney against their Youtube channel.
Unless they had permission to redistribute and modify The Walt Disney Company's Zootopia trailer, Big Cat Rescue seems to be purposefully riding off of Zootopia's popularity and confusing the public by making it seem as though Zoo College is associated with Zootopia.
While I don't expect Disney to file a lawsuit against Big Cat Rescue, I do see them possibly sending a threatening cease and desist order if enough people bring this to their attention.
I wonder if Big Cat Rescue will simply give in if Disney decides to take action. Back in 2014, The World Intellectual Property Organization ruled against Big Cat Rescue regarding the ownership of a domain name. Big Cat Rescue refused to obey the decision ordering them to hand over the domain name and filed a federal lawsuit against the complainant.
Written By: Juan Garcia
UPDATE 4/3/17: Big Cat Rescue removed the video in question from their Zoo College website, but their Facebook video is still up. Feel free to send an email to Disney's anti-piracy team if Big Cat Rescue starts circulating the video again: email@example.com