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Not-So-Happy Life For Swedish Animation Company?

A judgement was recently rendered by a Stockholm Chamber of Commerce arbitrator that Swedish animation house Happy Life violated copyright and was in breach of contract when it produced a second series of the animated show LISA. The dispute between LISA creator Magnus Carlsson and his former employers ended in his favor on December 21, 2001 after a six-month long arbitration process. According to Carlsson and his lawyer Jan Linden, Happy Life had "no contractual right to dispose of the drawn character LISA without Magnus Carlsson´s consent, meaning that the 26 new episodes of LISA have been produced without right, constituting both a breach of contract and a copyright infringement." Happy Life CEO Piodor Gustafsson told AWN that although the company is not allowed to discuss or comment on the content of the arbitration Happy Lifes view of the matter is different from Carlssons. "Being a small company producing for a mass market, it is only natural for Happy Life to work in teams where lots of different people make important contribution to the whole. This does not, as in the case with Magnus Carlsson, give a certain individual the exclusive right to the team's efforts. It is our profound will and our firm belief that we will find means to make all of our properties, including LISA, available to the audience." According to a C21 MEDIA report, Carlsson contends that he created the LISA series and characters in 1995, prior to joining Happy Life. The first series was co-produced with Varga Studios in 1998, and Carlsson subsequently left Happy Life back in February 2000. The second series, also co-produced with Varga, was made in 2001. "They thought they could do what they wanted with my characters after I left but they can't. They produced the second series against my will," said Carlsson. The new episodes are distributed by Hit Entertainment Ltd. and have already been sold to several TV channels, including HBO Family, Cartoon Network, ABC (Australia), Ceske Televize (Czech Rep.), Nickelodeon (UK) and YTV (Canada).