"If somebody else looks like you, does that person violate the laws?" - Zhuo Jianrong, Director of Autobots (a knock off of Disney Pixar's Cars)
^ The best defense statement against plagiarism ever. What a genius.
Quote from here, have some chuckles: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/07/china/china-movie-disney-cars/index.html
And the trailer (which looks nothing like the poster): http://www.wandafilm.com/baseInfo/film/filmIndex.do?m=film_info_init_next&filmId=20150608034716982169
One of the glaring issues with that line of argument is that it's not actually the mimicry that's illegal - it's deliberately making something that copies what other people have made. Having a piece of fruit randomly grow to resemble a Pixar car wouldn't be a copyright violation (although it would be hard to convince people it's accidental). Deliberately making something that leverages a Pixar look and brand is a problem.
Also, living beings are not subject to copyright law.
That director's argument fails on both logical and legal grounds - and probably moral ones as well.
I first thought this would be about those Chinese copycat cars which look almost 1:1 like some Porsche models etc. http://jalopnik.com/the-chinese-porsche-macan-copy-could-fool-your-neighbor-1710337770
"If somebody else looks like you, does that person violate the laws?"
I guess the issue is on the money and time spent on design etc., not only that something looks similar. And I guess like someone pointed out, also so that consumers know what they are getting. Plus trademark protection, ie. the original getting also bad press due to the copycats failing.
That said, this is still not easy and black&white question. After all, Disney itself "stole" lots of old stories, characters and fairy tales for its own use.
Disney didn't 'steal' anything. Fairy tales, etc are in the public domain. Disney is free to use them, as is anyone else. This is why having a public domain is important - cultural touchstones need to be free to be part of the culture. Our shared stories shouldn't be hostage to a corporation's bottom line.
The issue underlying most of copyright law is whether someone is trying to deliberately leverage another's work for their own advantage, and at what point an innovation or creation should be freed from legal monopolies and subject to market forces (trademark law has the quirk that clear labeling is also to protect consumers, which is why trademarks don't forcibly expire like patents do and copyright should).
Yeah, it's not a cut-and-dried question, but that's why we have laws and centuries of legal precedent to help people sort out what is and is not OK. Common law is a beautiful thing. :)