I want to take The Little Mermaid and remake it. I heard that the original story by the author was actually about how he liked another man, and incorporated that into The Little Mermaid. I want to remake The Little Mermaid into that story, but would it be illegal for me to do so? This is something that I don't intend to make money off of. I know that The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen is public domain, but I'm really inspired by Disney's version. Would it be wrong for me to take the script of The Little Mermaid and interpret it so it's somehow "my" own story?

Also willing to add more information if some parts don't make sense.

1 Answer 1


It would be copyright infringement. The script that you are planning to copy from is protected by law, so requires the copyright-owner's permission to create a derivative version (your own interpretation). If instead you write a completely different story inspired by the original book, you might not get sued. The problem is that there is a reasonable chance that you would accidentally duplicate part of one of the myriad adaptations, then the jury would have to decide whether it was just a coincidence, or copying.

  • Alright, thank you very much for the answer!
    – confused
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 21:13
  • 1
    @user6726 actually, if he remains true to Anderson’s work there’s no chance of infringing Disney. The original is dark, violent, bloody and misogynistic- elements that Disney started to move away from in the 1970s.
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 21:14
  • This is correct. A large percentage of Disney films are actually based on public domain works - Frozen is based on the The Snow Queen from 1844. You couldn't copy any of Disney's songs or much of their adaptation - you would have to do either a straight adaptation of the original or your own adaptation. You can be as creative as you want - make your version a SF epic with ice-powered starcruisers or whatever, just don't copy Disney! Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 21:42

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