Disney Claims House Of Mouse Built With Copyright, Ignores Public Domain Foundation

from the support-disney,-stomp-out-the-public-domain dept

Walt Disney is a company that has regularly taken from the public domain, but which famously refuses to give back to the public domain. Many of its most famous movies were public domain stories that Disney co-opted and then locked up with copyright. Disney has also been one of the main proponents of expanding copyright at every opportunity. As many people have noted, it was a driving force behind the 1998 copyright term extension, which some have called the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” because it kept Mickey Mouse from going into the public domain for another 20 years.

So, it seems notable (as pointed out by the EFF) that one of the “stakeholder” presentations at the latest TPP negotiations was “The Walt-Disney Company: Creativity, Brought to you by Copyright.”

Of course, that leaves out that Disney was more or less founded on both copyright infringement (the true history of Mickey Mouse involves Disney copying another movie that was still under copyright) and using the public domain, not copyright. Disney’s creativity wasn’t brought to the world because of copyright, but often in spite of copyright. You can find the history in lots of places, but this recent blog post highlights how many of Disney’s early works exist thanks to the public domain:

The Disney company had a moderate level of success with the original characters featured in early black and white short films. Disney did not really hit stride until making full length animated features. Giving credit where due, “Fantasia” was original Disney characters and story line, if you want to call it that. “Fantasia” was literally a series of short animated stories edited together to a soundtrack made up of mostly public domain music for which Disney paid no license (with the exception of “The Rite Of Spring”).

From there on, most Disney feature animations would be based on stories that had since fallen into public domain. Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and many other princess stories, were based on age old fairy tales that Disney was not required to pay license or royalties for. Later works would include children’s literature like: “Pinocchio”, “Alice in Wonderland” , “The Jungle Book” (released just one year after Kipling’s copyright expired),– All in the public domain! Disney didn’t pay a cent for story license, yet reaped many millions. The “Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin” and all features made under the reign of Michael Eisner, would be from public domain. Of course, Disney touted “The Lion King” as an original story. Not! Besides being an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” told through a pride of lions, there are way too many similarities between The Lion King and a 1960s Japanese animated series called “Kimba the White Lion”. Though Disney claims these a coincidence, they would sue anyone else into oblivion if they came half as close to one of their properties.

It seems that perhaps someone else ought to do a presentation on “The Walt-Disney Company: Creativity, Brought to you by the Public Domain.” Otherwise, we’re going to see efforts like TPP seek to further kill off the public domain.

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Companies: disney

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Comments on “Disney Claims House Of Mouse Built With Copyright, Ignores Public Domain Foundation”

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192 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“You seek to deny Disney the very right that you push to grant everyone else – public domain.”

On the contrary, boy, the point is that Disney claims their success is from original copyrighted characters.
Truth is that their success is based on utilizing the public domain!
And you confirmed it!
Thank you!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Truth is that their success is based on utilizing the public domain!
And you confirmed it!”

Duh! Everyone knows they used the public domain as source material, but if that was all there was to Disney, there would be no issue, would there?

What is copyright isn’t the public domain work, it’s their treatment, their character developments, their writing, their additional characters, their production.

Sleeping Beauty is a nice fairy tale. Disney made an amazing movie based on the fairy tale, but it’s not a straight run of the fairy tale. It’s their own version, their own character developments, their own sub-plots, dialog, and the like. More importantly, it’s their art work, their production – that is what is copyright.

You are free to go back to the original fairy tales and work out your own version. You guys keep falling for the “they yanked it out of the public domain” bullshit. It’s still in the public domain. You can make your own movie if you like. Knock yourself out. Just don’t make it a copy of how Disney did it.

surfer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

any near semblance to the original fairy tale as depicted by Disney would be sued out of existence as a derivative work of the Disney version. This is how they steal from the public domain to copyright it. Just like Robin Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel $ Gretel, all remakes from the public domain. One could make the argument that Disney has nary a creative bone in their respective ‘corporate’ body.

Why not make original movies from original stories? Oh, because they can’t, hence the ‘theft’ from the public domain.

A wise man once said, ‘Judge not by words, but by deeds’, and on that note, I will continue to file share the remakes how I see fit, because they were mine to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Just don’t make it a copy of how Disney did it.”

There have been numerous successful non-Disney versions (both live-action and animated) of
Cinderella
Beauty and the Beast
Jungle Book
Little Mermaid
Mulan
etc.

The point, boy, is Disney’s hypocrisy in claiming that their success isn’t based on utilizing public domain material as the basis for their most successful works.

For the record, Disney properties like Cinderella, Snow White, et al are MORE profitable than the characters like Mickey Mouse that Disney and crew created.
That’s why those PD-based properties are the primary focus of Disney merchandising!

Jason says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, except you might as well copyright that, because you completely made that shit up.

The article doesn’t attack Disney’s use of public domain. It doesn’t even attack their use of copyright. It does point out their conspicuously inequitable expansion of copyright and how much more unreasonable it is in light of how Disney has basically relied upon public domain stories for the lion’s share of its profits in the last several decades.

surfer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

6 whole minutes?!?!

now if this doesn’t confirm the fact that you are a corporate troll, just loitering around Techdirt to slant and confuse every single story dealing with copyright nothing does.

You are a narrow minded, self centered, copyright maximalist that does nothing but ‘la la la’ I can’t hear you. ‘I have rights!! dammit’ verbal diarrhea is falling on deaf and tired ears here.

Have you not realized that you have not changed a single informed opinion here with your diatribe? I got news for you, the continued maximalist position of your troll masters will, in fact, only change more fence sitters to the side of change, SPECIFICALLY because of your inane stupidity and increasing irrelevancy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, remember that old Disney movie Song of the South? I went to the official Disney store and searched for it:

We could not find products that matched all of your terms song of the south.

So if I “illegally” download this movie, then how is it immoral? I grew up with this movie, it represents a piece of my cultural childhood. It came out 66 years ago.

How is Disney being harmed here?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because Disney might at some unspecified, non-guaranteed point in the future decide to release the film officially. If they do, they would have your purchase of the title at full retail price, whereas if you’ve downloaded it you’ll never buy it ever. Therefore, you need to be prevented from obtaining the movie in any other way, even if it’s not legally available to you and there’s no guarantee it ever will be.

No, seriously, that’s the argument.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because Disney might at some unspecified, non-guaranteed point in the future decide to release the film officially. If they do, they would have your purchase of the title at full retail price, whereas if you’ve downloaded it you’ll never buy it ever. Therefore, you need to be prevented from obtaining the movie in any other way, even if it’s not legally available to you and there’s no guarantee it ever will be.

No, seriously, that’s the argument.

Actually, in this particular case, Disney won’t release it on home video at all because they don’t want to draw a lot of attention to their happy singing field-slave character… The last time they aired it was in the 80s — which itself is astonishing, since they were even aware of the controversy when they released it in the 40s. Although… in the 40s, even their acknowledgement of the controversy was, umm, controversial:

“the negro situation is a dangerous one. Between the negro haters and the negro lovers there are many chances to run afoul of situations that could run the gamut all the way from the nasty to the controversial.” – Vern Caldwell

In short: there’s more than one reason to dislike Disney.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:

So in that particular case, there was a reason for it not being available, at least in the US

See that’s the thing with history and culture, you’re not supposed to ignore the bits of it you don’t like you’re supposed to acknowledge adn learn from them. Sure loads of people do it anyway but that’s one of the problems with massively long copyright – it makes it vastly easier for a single entity (in this case Disney) to decide how history gets revised.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Whoah.

Don’t forget that one of the reasons why there is a Hollywood is that a bunch of movie companies didn’t want to pay royalties to Edison for his new-fangled technology; so they moved out west to make it more difficult for Edison to collect.

This is also the same industry where record-breaking blockbusters “lose” money because of Hollywood Accounting.

This is an industry founded and thriving on lies, cheating and deceit.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re: Whoah.

Don’t forget that one of the reasons why there is a Hollywood is that a bunch of movie companies didn’t want to pay royalties to Edison for his new-fangled technology.

No, not quite. European companies were innovating in cinematography as well, but Edison claimed a patent monopoly on some of those innovations in the US. Edison then used this monopoly to pressure both movie production and exhibition. This left those who wanted creative freedom to use contraband equipment and film stock, much of it from Europe. Edison’s “collection agents” became increasingly brutal in their enforcement of his monopoly “rights”. The film pioneers moved west and eventually settled down within the hills of California. The rest is history, but one that Hollywood itself has completely forgotten.

Now here we are, a century later, and those who innovate still have to dodge the monopolist and their thugs. Sadly, the former innovators are now the monopolist.

Anonymous Coward says:

and yet again, a copyright maximalist industry is allowed to put it’s $10 worth into this extremely dangerous discussion, but anyone and everyone from the public’s side is allowed 8 mins max, provided they can split themselves into multiple pieces and attend multiple venues at the same time. talk about a joke! the biggest problem with the USA now is that it wants nothing at all to do with democracy, going totally down the dictatorship route, protecting industries and companies even when that means invading other countries legal process, whilst destroying everything and everyone that puts up even a token fight. what a shameful nation it has become!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

People who market proprietary software absolutely despise the GPL license and throw mud and FUD at it every chance they get… precisely because the GPL was expressly designed to prevent a similar “Disney” situation occurring in software.

The only “freedom” the GPL takes away is the freedom to take freely available code and lock it up Disney-style.

average_joe (profile) says:

Of course, that leaves out that Disney was more or less founded on both copyright infringement (the true history of Mickey Mouse involves Disney copying another movie that was still under copyright) and using the public domain, not copyright. Disney’s creativity wasn’t brought to the world because of copyright, but often in spite of copyright.

When you say stuff like this, I start to wonder whether you just don’t really understand copyright of if you’re just being willfully blind so you can continue your copyright crusade. When they say, “brought to you by copyright,” they aren’t referring to the source materials. What they mean is, because of the marketable right they get in their creation provided by copyright, they were willing to put in the time, energy, creativity, and money needed to create works that we all value. I’m sure you know this though. This stuff isn’t hard. Whether the source material was itself copyrighted or public domain misses the point. It’s “brought to you by copyright” because the copyright DISNEY RECEIVED made it possible. Sheesh.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The fact remains that they owe their status and creativity as much to copyright exceptions as to copyright itself. They got an advantage by entering a market when copyright was much weaker than it is now, and then used that power to manipulate copyright in their favour to better ensconce them in their position. And now they give a misleading presentation that is clearly intended to suggest that stronger copyright will benefit future creativity and the economy as a whole — when in fact it will only benefit Disney and their contemporaries, since they have done such a good job of shutting the doors on all the copyright exceptions which help new players and which benefitted them in the beginning.

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, lots of other things brought us those great works. State contract law, state property laws, federal workplace regulations, etc. So what? The point is that when Disney says that those great works were “brought to you by copyright,” they are telling the truth. Mike’s claim that “Disney’s creativity wasn’t brought to the world because of copyright” is wrong. Copyright is the sine qua non of Disney’s investment in creativity. Without it, Disney’s great works would not have been invested in. Did they give the works away for free? No. They relied on their marketable right provided by copyright, and but for that right, those great works would not have been created. Mike can never give copyright the credit it’s due, that much is clear. He’ll demonize it ’til the day he dies. But Disney’s claim of “brought to you by copyright” is 100% correct.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You know perfectly well that the purpose of a meeting and a presentation like this is to send the message that stronger copyright enforcement is good for everyone — Disney and other creators like Disney. But that’s not true. Disney is presenting only one half of their success story – the half that, if left alive while the other half is slain, leaves them in a position of power while making things much harder for everyone else.

Do you think Disney told the TPP stakeholders this was a presentation about how they could protect Disney and minimize their competition? No — they told them it was a presentation about how to encourage success and creativity. And that’s incredibly misleading.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

And you, and everyone else, knows perfectly well that Disney isn’t in the business of making presentations that go against its interests.

Do you think anyone really thinks the Disney presenters would say anything against their interest?

Everyone knows Disney’s bias, and can evaluate the merits of Disney’s presentation.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Everyone knows Disney’s bias, and can evaluate the merits of Disney’s presentation.

Except politicians of course…. it’s a tragic degenerative disease of the brain they get, very specific oddly enough, caused by excessive interaction thick brown envelopes and the residual cocaine on the large amount of bank notes in them.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“without copyright they would not have had the same success or investment or marketability?”

I agree, but this isn’t the problem, it’s when Disney is able to manipulate law to continue having that same success while stifling others who could use ideas that they built using the public domain.

It’s a cycle and the proof is right there…Disney is successful because of copyright and public domain, but only because things were balanced. When you manipulate copyright law, then you have an imbalance, and people who could benefit from the same system Disney used, lose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Yes, I understand and agree, the field is no longer level and the societal pact has been broken due to expansion of copyright, which severely diminishes the public domain.

I’m trying to get someone to think further than copyright = works just because that’s the system we have in place. Just a thought experiment, how would works be produced without copyright? Because I believe that at this point in history, this is how folks should be thinking to monetize works instead of over dependence on the enforcement or expansion or existence of copyright laws.

It’s going off-topic though, mea culpa.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Just a thought experiment, how would works be produced without copyright? Because I believe that at this point in history, this is how folks should be thinking to monetize works instead of over dependence on the enforcement or expansion or existence of copyright laws.

That’s the core goal of this blog. See here for lots of examples of business models moving away from enforcement tactics. There are lots of some broader posts examining new ways of succeeding that aren’t based on copyright and/or enforcement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“But Disney’s claim of “brought to you by copyright” is 100% correct.”

Unless, it goes against there profit margin. Peter Pan had a perpetual copyright given to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Of course, Disney wasn’t going to pay licensing fees to when it came to creating their movies, instead they simply pirated the content and let the little kids suffer. πŸ˜‰

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Oh, I’m sorry…this is not an ad-hominem attacks:

“Seriously, it’s a constant battle to decipher whether/when Mike truly believes what he’s saying, is just ill-informed, is just writing unclearly, or is being disingenuous.”

It seems fairly clear especially when you provide no evidence to back up your claim besides your own experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Why? Is he beyond reproach? Is criticism tantamount to blasphemy?

I put forth my substantive criticism below. My comment above was not an argument regarding the validity/invalidity of anything, but merely a comment to someone who shares my view of this article (and Mike’s writing in general) regarding my personal opinions.

If that bothers you, I guess that’s too bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I think it’s important for people to be called out when they make silly statements.

AJ called out the silly statement, and I agreed with him, and put forth a query (i.e., stated that it’s hard for me to decipher) whether Mike actually believes some of his more asinine statements.

I think it’s constructive because we know Mike reads the comments. Knowing that asinine statements lead some people to question his sincerity may in fact lead to greater introspection when writing.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Re:

“I think it’s important for people to be called out when they make silly statements.”

I agree, but you don’t think it detracts from the conversation?

AJ argues semantics with Mike instead of addressing the real issue, which is that Disney is being disingenuous to people. They do this by leaving out any mention to the public domain that helped jump start the company.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Re:

“but you don’t think it detracts from the conversation?”

No.

You know, every time someone points out some flaw in an article here, someone comes along and says such criticism is detracting from “THE REAL ISSUE.”

People are capable of discussing more than one thing, and just because some of the things in an article are stupid or whatever, and some things are valid, doesn’t mean discussing the stupid parts is detracting from from THE REAL ISSUE.

If criticizing Disney for a presentation that is disingenuous for leaving things out (even though the public domain was not the main thrust of their presentation), isn’t it legitimate to criticize Masnick for presenting a false dichotomy between copyright and the public domain, even if that statement isn’t absolutely necessary to his main point is that Disney is disingenuous or hypocritical?

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Re:

But it’s a semantics argument, and an opinion blog.

Are you telling me that logging into a blog to tell someone they’re stupid does not de-value the discussion?

Besides, it was an assumption on Aj’s part about the presentation itself. Have you seen it? Has he seen it? Do we know whether it’s going to focus on creating stronger copyright laws or focus on the movie we all know and love being a product of copyright?

At this point in time, there’s a lot of speculation, but it’s easier to assume it’s about encouraging heavier copyright laws because the studios are suffering.

“If criticizing Disney for a presentation that is disingenuous for leaving things out (even though the public domain was not the main thrust of their presentation), isn’t it legitimate to criticize Masnick for presenting a false dichotomy between copyright and the public domain, even if that statement isn’t absolutely necessary to his main point is that Disney is disingenuous or hypocritical?”

Dichotomy?

Where is he saying that public domain and copyright oppose each other?

If anything, it’s impossible to say that. Public domain and copyright are tools, they’re not inherently evil, but they can be used for evil things. Int his case, he is commenting ont he fact that Disney has used and manipulated copyright law to prevent people form using a system they themselves have used to gain success.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Re:

Public domain and copyright are tools

Well, not quite. Copyright is a tool – public domain is the default natural state of things.

I find this whole dichotomy conversation interesting because, while both copyright and the PD can co-exist in a business model, the reality is that the two things are still very much opposed to each other. Not so much as a dichotomy, but as a zero-sum game: more copyright = less public domain, and vice versa.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I think there are plenty of TD fans who are not willing to listen to dissenting views, and there are also a good amount who are willing to listen to dissenting views.

My original comment wasn’t even aimed at either of those groups, but at Average Joe.

There are a handful of regulars who I won’t try to engage in conversation, since I find them incapable or unwilling to engage in logical discussion.

But there are plenty who are perfectly willing to do so (even if I disagree with a lot of their arguments).

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You can make money off of a derivative, which is what Disney had made with Steamboat Willie. Still though, they are rather cut-throat about it. No studio on earth knows that more than Pixar Animation Studios.

Not under current law. A derivative of a copyright work is protected under the original copyright. If I wrote a book based on the story and characters from Dune, I’d expect the Herbert estate would have serious problems with me collecting any money from it, unless they had the option of deciding whether it could be distributed and how much of a royalty they would receive from it. Even if it is loosely based on the same idea, it seems that copyright maximalists’ panties get in a bind, and Disney is right up there with them.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Why answer a question with a question?

By the way, Disney is very good at keeping their creations, which happened to be based on other people’s creations locked up.

Steamboat Willie, the original basis for Mickey, was investigated in the 90s with speculation that it belonged in the public domain.

Disney decided to avoid paying it forward for the people that let them build upon ideas that already existed by threatening to sue the author of an article debating the copyright of Steamboat Willie.

How very generous of them.

Dionaea (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Disney creates wonderful works that we all love”

Speak for yourself, not everyone absolutely worships Disney movies. Looking at the older Disney movies most of them have pretty ugly artwork if you ask me, I’d rather read the story and use my imagination instead. Seriously, who’d pay for Snow White and her voodoo-mask-faced dwarfs these days, yuck.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Do you dispute that because of the incentives created by copyright, Disney creates wonderful works that we all love?

Yes, I dispute that… A more accurate form might be:
Disney have re-created many classic stories that are very popular under copyright terms and it is likely that copyright played a significant part in their decision given the prevelant conditions at the time. However there is no way to know what their reasoning or product might have been had copyright not existed.

Because that’s the thing isn’t it? Copyright supporters are arguing a 1 sided argument. However much shouting there is about “[x film] would never have been created without copyright” it’s got to be hypothetical because there’s never been an environment to test it. In the current environment, though the option exists to do without and some people do, its a far more difficult route because the playing field isn’t level. Who knows what would happen if copyright simply didn’t exist? Is it likely that the same films would have been created? Probably not. Is it likely other films would have been created? Likely yes. Would they have been as engaging as many people seem to find the Disney films? Absolutely no way to tell but I’d say yes.

Modern day “blockbusters” with expensive high-tech might not exist in the same form without copyright. But is that a bad thing? I like a good whoosh-bang explosion-fest as well as the next guy but if I tried to write my top 100 fave films well over 1/2 of them would come out as middling to low budget films with engaging plots/stories and/or clever writing and characterisation and would definitely occupy most of the top slots on the list. In a hypothetical world without copyright, more films like that might have been made. Would that be better, worse or just different?

average_joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Seriously, it’s a constant battle to decipher whether/when Mike truly believes what he’s saying, is just ill-informed, is just writing unclearly, or is being disingenuous.

I’m sure it’s some combination of each. In this case, he’s clearly being disingenuous. Anything to get the troops riled up against that evil Disney. Intellectual rigor has to sit at the back of the Techdirt bus.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

false dichotomy between public domain and copyright.

What false dichotomy exactly? Are you suggesting that a rich public domain does not enhance creativity? Or are you suggesting that creative works are completely stand alone and not built on things that come before so that “things that come before” being locked up in copyright isn’t a problem? Or that it’s possible to use copyrighted work as a basis for future works, however loose, without falling foul of being sued? Or that stringent copyright enforcement such as disney is known for does not make it harder to base a separate story on the original uncopyrighted work without being sued?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

….you’re just being willfully blind so you can continue your copyright crusade.

Ya know AJ there are quite a few of us around here who actually do want copyright laws changed or fixed. I didn’t come to my conslusions concerning copyright based only on what I read at Techdirt either. I try to view issues from every angle so I can get the whole picture.

Since you seem to be fond of asking questions concerning personal beliefs, let me ask you a couple:

1) Do you feel that our current copyright system is fair to everyone involved – creators, consumers and the middlemen?

2) Do you feel our current copyright system is living up to the mandates set forth in the Constitution, specifically the “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts..” part?

3) Do you feel that a system that criminalizes (or leaves oneself open to heavy-handed civil action) everyday behavior of basically every citizen is beneficial to society as a whole?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I know you weren’t asking me. But we’ve had thoughtful, productive interactions in the past, so I’ll answer (feel free to ignore me, of course).

1. No. At least not 100% of the time. But I can’t think of any system that is fair to 100% of participants 100% of the time, so I’m not sure if that’s a useful metric.

2. Yes. That said, it is not optimal. I think changes, including shortening the duration of copyright and some sort of change (I really don’t know how to do it successfully) that would allow greater freedom to create derivative works, while still compensating copyright owners of the underlying works, would better promote progress than the current regime.

3. No. That said, I don’t believe the current copyright law does this.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

3. No. That said, I don’t believe the current copyright law does this.

Indeed it doesn’t because it’s not a criminal issue, it’s civil. The number of people it criminalizes is pretty much small (I can think of Richard from TV Shack, Kim Dotcom and other few examples from the top of my head but most cases are civil).

I guess the proper question would address the fact that copyright destroys lives for common behavior and is not deterrent to this behavior because it is socially accepted.

Also, I think the question was for our obnoxious troll average_joe.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I know you weren’t asking me. But we’ve had thoughtful, productive interactions in the past, so I’ll answer (feel free to ignore me, of course).

No jump right in. The whole comment was really designed to invoke some thoughtful discussion.

1) My answer is also no. I also agree that no system is 100% fair 100% of the time. Of the three participants I listed I feel that out current system is slanted to favor the middlemen the most though and that is something that needs to be addressed. Copyright should favor the creators and consumers.

2) My answer: No. The biggest factor is the elimination of works going into the public domain. That was the original deal. Some of the changes I advocate are pretty simple:

– Change back to opt-in copyright. That at the very least would provide a comprehensive list going forward of what is under copyright.

– Revert back to limit of 14 years with option of one renewal for another 14 years then automatically into the public domain. 28 years seems plenty of enough time to monetize a creation.

– Legalize personal file sharing. With concrete definitions of what constitutes commercial infringement using actual profits of an entity, not just gross income. Makes no sense to me to keep aggressively enforcing copyright and not really having any tangible results come of it. People are still violating copyright laws after 10+ years of ever increasing enforcement.

3) My answer also no. But I do feel copyright laws are violated everyday by everyone, usually without them even knowing they are doing so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I go back and forth on the merits of opt-in copyright. I think it larger content creators will retain all the benefit of the current system, and receive a greater benefit by being able to use some more source materials. Smaller creators will lose copyright protection due to ignorance and/or lack of funding (depending what the opt-in mechanism is), but may also gain access to greater source material. Consumers will see some benefit, largely in the form of greater access to the works of smaller creators (either directly or after repackaging/remixing from larger creators).

I definitely agree with a shorter copyright term, but I’m not sure what I feel is a more appropriate length. It’s a tough economic sell on an international level, since the U.S. is a net receiver of $$$ from copyright exploitation.

It’s true that copyright laws are violated all the time, but the vast majority of such violations go unnoticed and unpunished (which is fine). That’s not a great system, but I’m not sure what a better system would be.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I go back and forth on the merits of opt-in copyright.

With the technology at our disposal these days, I think an opt-in system would be fairly easy to implement. For the creator it could be as simple as filling out a web form. But the benefits down the line would be enormous, we would have a one-stop source for the pertinent data on a work, like when it would be available to the public domain and who owns the copyright if someone wanted to license a use while still under copyright.

I definitely agree with a shorter copyright term, but I’m not sure what I feel is a more appropriate length.

I also have vacillated on what would be the optimal copyright length. I settled on what the original designers of US copyright law felt was fair.

It’s true that copyright laws are violated all the time, but the vast majority of such violations go unnoticed and unpunished (which is fine). That’s not a great system, but I’m not sure what a better system would be.

Yeah, I agree that the majority of violations are unnoticed and unpunished. It just seems a bit scary knowing that at anytime, some violation like that COULD be pursued in court. I guess some sort of agreement on what is acceptable and what is not would be nice. You know, like can I really use this image from a popular movie as my avatar or will I get sued. or if I quote such-and-such text on my blog will I get a DMCA notice kind of stuff.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

But the benefits down the line would be enormous, we would have a one-stop source for the pertinent data on a work, like when it would be available to the public domain and who owns the copyright if someone wanted to license a use while still under copyright.

You’ve got to figure it would actually be easier for the creators themselves to have a single central registry too. How often have we heard about instances where no-one can work out who owns a work? All the lawyers neccessary to keep it all straight (or deliberately bent in some instances) can’t be cheap, surely?

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

1. No. At least not 100% of the time. But I can’t think of any system that is fair to 100% of participants 100% of the time, so I’m not sure if that’s a useful metric.

Well that was a valid answer to Gwiz’s question, but I think he asked the wrong one…. I’d ask
1. Do you feel that the current copyright system is more beneficial to one or more of those groups (creator, consumers, middlemen) and what “percentage of the pie of benefit” would you assign to each.
My feeling would suggest about 60% of the benefit currently gravitates to middlemen, maybe 30% to creators and a generous 10% to consumers

2. with you on that one…. in this day and age I’d say waaaay shorter (maybe 10 years maybe even less) considering that the speed and volume of creation is so fast and most of the profit usually comes at the front. I think the copyright holder sacrificing the long tail of control for public gain is a very fair swap, after all as has been proved many times, it’s not like you can’t still make money on public domain works. I’d love to see a genuine debate based on, you know, actual facts regarding a sensible length of copyright though.

On the derivative works thing… that particular “right” is has always been way to close to locking up the idea rather than the expression for my taste and personally I think it ought to go entirely. Certainly making it easier might help some though – some sort of compulsory fixed-fee license grant like for songwriting perhaps?

3. No. That said, I don’t believe the current copyright law does [criminalise everyday behaviour] .

3. Hmmmm You don’t? Your kids (If you have any) never learnt to draw trying to draw their favorite cartoon characters? You never dabbled in your teens with trying to write “fanfiction” in your favorite story universe or “borrowed” from a book you’d read and changed it around a little bit to pass an english lit test? Never put a recorded TV show or film on a tape meaning to get round to watching it and discovering it on the shelf a couple of years later?
These natural things either do or could violate copyright even before you start getting into the debate about whether you consider “sharing” a natural behaviour or not.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

As for 3, most copyright infringement is not criminal, and drawing cartoon characters at the kitchen table is almost certainly fair use (so not even civil infringement).

I snipped and skipped the civil bit.. my bad. Although, that’s another gripe I have – as technology progresses, (e.g. sharing, which even the most rabid maximalist will usually agree took place naturally and was “ignored” in the way we’re talking about BI – “before internet”), what would once have simply been a civil issue is suddenly re-classified (or trying to be) as criminal. Plus, is there at that point really a major difference between a civil and criminal issue as far as an individual is concerned when the civil “fine” is so damn big for a tiny “offence” as to destroy the life in question anyway.

As for drawing at the kitchen table being fair use, our resident copyright maximalist lawyers usually like to point out (factually or not, who knows? IANAL) that fair use is a defense that can only be applied after you’ve been sued for it. To an individual again, how is $20,000 (optimistically) in legal fees to prove your innocence or accepting the $5000 (optimistically) “generous settlement” offered massively different from being guilty other than in scale?

Also, I could be wrong because I can’t be bothered to look up the reference, but I seem to remember some organisation being sued for displaying fanart done by people who used the facilty. That (true or not) prompts a hypotheitcal; What would happen if your child’s picture of Mickey along with other similar ones was put up on display for a nursery (um daycare in the US?) to show prospective parents what wonderful artists the kiddies become under their care and entice them to send their own little darlings there? Would that then be considered potential criminal infringement since (tenuously) the centre could be considered to be profiting from a copyrighted work? If so, should the centre be forced to make little Johnny draw a bowl of fruit when he wants to draw spiderman?

As for the fan fiction one, I know someone who writes in the setting of a well-known TV series and doesn’t dare release it into the wild even for free for fear of a heavy-handed response.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

On the derivative works thing… that particular “right” is has always been way to close to locking up the idea rather than the expression for my taste and personally I think it ought to go entirely. Certainly making it easier might help some though – some sort of compulsory fixed-fee license grant like for songwriting perhaps?

That’s some very interesting food for thought.

dennis deems (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The seventh edition of Grimms’ fairy tales, source of Snow White, was published in 1857. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865. Collodi’s Pinocchio was published in 1883. Kipling’s The Jungle Book was published in 1894. If these works had been subject to Disney’s hypocritical 100 year copyright prison, Disney would have had to pay for the privilege of making its feature films based on them, to say nothing of the corresponding merchandising. One wonders whether Snow White or Pinocchio would have been made at all. These are the works on which Disney built its empire, and it was able to use them because they were not subject to preposterous copyright claims. Under the terms that were in effect when Disney’s version of Snow White was made, the film, its score, and all the characters and visuals associated with it, ought to have entered public domain DECADES ago. This is the point. Disney drinks deep from the well of public domain but contrives to prevent that well ever from being replenished.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You know, you are annoying. I’ll congratulate you on that. On the insightful/funniest post you were downright obnoxious. If you were actually looking for a serious discussion you’d see that the criticism here is that they are supporting initiatives that restrict and lock public domain by both denying/restricting usage of current works under public domain or preventing new material from reaching it (from where other people could create on top of it).

But no, you willfully twist what’s being said. Who is missing the point again?

Wally (profile) says:

Toy Story

One only has to look at how Disney handled Toy Story when Pixar Studios gave them the script. They gave them 1/8 of the normal larger budget that their CAPS system based CG in their movies would normally get. They told Pixar that they made Beauty and the Beast’s CAPS Scene (Tale as Old As Time) with 3 times the cost of what they actually spent and that they needed Disney’s financial help to subsequently get exclusive licensing to the works of Pixar Studios for Toy Story to go through.

Translation, they saw a viable, underfunded, rival system that was better than their own, and they snookered Pixar into going with them through deception and lies. Welcome to Disney folks, great movies, but they treat their modern studios with prejudice.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Disney was founded on using the public domain AND copyright.

And plenty of other companies are free to do so as well.

Yes, they are free to use the public domain… The public domain which has not grown in any significant way since Disney was founded (even though it was supposed to) in large part thanks to legislative pressure from Disney itself. See the problem now?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The public domain which has not grown in any significant way since Disney was founded “

Ok, that’s not true. See, this is something that bothers me. I agree with your ultimate conclusion. I agree that it’s a problem that Disney and others want the public domain to stop growing.

But YOU DON’T NEED TO LIE TO MAKE THAT POINT. You don’t need to use hyperbole, half-truths, false dichotomies, and other logical fallacies to make that point! So why do it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The false dichotomy was in the original article (copyright v. public domain). I didn’t mean to imply that all those things were included in Leigh Beadon’s single post.

As for the public domain, everything published in the U.S. prior to 1923 (I think) is public domain. This likely accounts for the huge drop, because everything after that *could* still be under copyright, but it depends on numerous factors.

There are plenty of works created/published after the twenties that have become public domain for various reasons (failure to renew, failure to publish with a copyright notice, death of the author + some years, etc.)

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

There’s no dichotomy. I don’t see him stating that anywhere.

You didn’t get, the amount of stuff entering public domain in the US is nearly zero in 92 years. There should be quite a few stuff made public by now but there were extensions and changes in copyright that are preventing that.

I agree with your last phrase but it only emphasizes the criticism in the article.

And, the fallacies, where are them?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Disney was more or less founded on…using the public domain, not copyright.”

This is the false dichotomy I was referring to. Disney was founded on both use of the public domain and copyright protection for its works based on the public domain, not one or the other.

I believe a false dichotomy counts as a logical fallacy.

“nearly zero in 92 year” is not accurate, unless you have a very broad definition of “nearly.”

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

This is the false dichotomy I was referring to. Disney was founded on both use of the public domain and copyright protection for its works based on the public domain, not one or the other.

But he is not making that dichotomy. He’s pointing out that Disney pretends their public domain pillar doesn’t exist. If anything, they are the ones making said dichotomy…

“nearly zero in 92 year” is not accurate, unless you have a very broad definition of “nearly.”

Leigh replied brilliantly. But I’ll change the term to suit you. replace nearly zero to “a very small percentage of produced works”. And I’m counting that yearly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“X is based on Y, not Z” presents a dichotomy between Y and Z. If you don’t think so, please explain.

In this case, I think it is a false dichotomy, because X is actually based on Y AND Z, not one or the other.

I suspect that *most* copyright protectable works produced in the era requiring renewal of copyright did not actually have their copyright renewed. I’ll readily concede that’s not an easy thing to verify, though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Did you know that the last publication year in which you can guarantee that a work has fallen into public domain is 1922?
Starting in 1923 you have to do a lot of sleuthing to discover if a work’s copyright was renewed, which would allow it to last long enough to hit the 1976 “lifetime” extension (which did not take effect until 1978). The 1998 Bono extension then covered everything that made it to 1978 with its 20-year provision.
There are likely to be a lot of works from between 1923 and 1950 that have fallen into the public domain due to lack of renewal, but I hope you have a good time finding out what they are.

The Walt Disney Company was founded on October 16, 1923.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The public domain which has not grown in any significant way since Disney was founded “

Ok, that’s not true.

Yes, it is. Disney was founded in 1923. Essentially the only things that have entered the public domain since then are works during certain decades that failed to register/renew, which is almost impossible to determine — except for companies the size of Disney who can afford to research the card catalogues, hurray! Nothing new will enter the public domain in the U.S. until 2019, still seven years away.

We could bicker over whether the small amount of growth that has occurred is “significant” or not — but when compared to the public domain promise that existed when Disney was mining the public domain itself, it is most certainly not. Under today’s copyright laws, none of the PD stories that Disney used (and which are STILL Disney’s most successful, popular and beloved films) would have been available to them — indeed, if today’s copyright law had been in effect at the time of their writing, some of them would still not be PD today. Conversely, under the promise at the time Disney released some of its most seminal films, many of them (Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo) would be in the public domain today — but they were granted retroactive extensions… at the behest of Disney.

So… “significant” may be a subjective phrase, but I stand by it. There has been no significant PD growth in the past near-century, and indeed there have been multiple reductions of the PD in direct violation of the contract the public made with creators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I guess no authors died after 1923, huh? And nobody published without copyright notices. And nobody failed to renew copyrights, and etc. and etc.

I guess if you think anything less than everything is not “significant”, then you’re right.

I guess there’s a big gray area there, so I’ll let you have your personal belief on what’s “significant” and I’ll have my personal belief that it’s a silly definition.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

As I mentioned, the one significant area where the PD has expanded — lack of notice, registration or renewal — is still effectively locked off to anyone who doesn’t have significant resources. The records are not readily available, with the majority of them still un-digitized and accessible only at the Copyright Office. That’s why you get the missing 20th century of books, for example — even though many of those works have in fact fallen into the PD due to lack of renewal, nobody will touch them or do anything with them because it is prohibitively difficult to determine their copyright status. So, technically they are an expansion of the public domain, but not effectively so, which is far more important.

I guess no authors died after 1923, huh?

I’ve sectioned this off because you seem to be a little bit confused. For works between 1923 and 1963 that were registered & renewed, the author’s lifespan has nothing to do with it. Today’s law grants such works 95 years of protection. Meaning the first published works to enter the PD from that period will not do so until Jan 1st, 2019. The last of those works will still be under copyright protection in 2058. Authors’ deaths have nothing to do with it.

The same 95-year period, independent of authors’ death, applies to all works from 1964 to 1977 simply published with notice, not even registration. Those works will not begin entering the public domain until 2059, and the last will still be under copyright in 2072.

Care to reconsider your definition of significant?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You are absolutely right that I was absolutely wrong about death of authors. Rather embarrassing, actually.

That, however, does not change my opinion of whether any significant growth of public domain works has occurred.

You are right that the copyright office website sucks. It’s amazing to me that the PTO website can be so many lightyears ahead of the copyright office website in terms of search capability, even for 100-year-old registrations.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

The other aspect I think you have to consider is how exactly you define “expansion of the public domain”, because there are two ways to look at that.

One is simply: the number of new works that have entered the public domain. That’s the sort of thing you can graph off year by year, and then we can debate whether the number is significant.

But there’s a broader and much more important way to look at it: how has the projected and promised public domain changed over time. That paints a much scarier picture. For decades, authors and other creators were happily producing works with the knowledge that they’d only get 28 years of protection and then, optionally, another 28 years — and the majority of them (in every medium except film) didn’t even bother with that option, having discovered that the work had run its commercial course within the first 28 years. Meanwhile, the public was happily paying for works, and happy with the promise that in 28/56 years they would be free.

If you graphed the projected public domain at the time, it would be steadily growing by huge amounts, starting in 1951 and accelerating from there on. Everyone at the time was happy with that arrangement. The works got created. They got bought. They got consumed.

Then copyright was retroactively extended, and zero emphasis was put on making copyright records available to the public. Today’s actual public domain, even counting expired registrations if it were possible to count such a thing, is but a fraction of what that projection would have showed — and today’s projection won’t show the growth starting until 2019. We effectively deprived every generation from the Korean War until today of countless works that were happily created with the understanding that they’d be free by now.

So it’s hard for me to look at the PD and see anything I’d call “growth”, much less “significant growth”. What I see is a long history of reduction, with a few things falling between the cracks.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

If you graphed the projected public domain at the time, it would be steadily growing by huge amounts, starting in 1951 and accelerating from there on. Everyone at the time was happy with that arrangement. The works got created. They got bought. They got consumed.

This here is one of the (many) things that drives me nuts about the “reasoning” of status quo copyright fans.
There’s an argument that says works might not have been created without copyright – if you limited it to “exactly the same works” it might even be a strong argument since there’s no denying there’s money in copyright, though I’m unsure if that’s better or worse than the works that would have been created in its absence and who the hell knows since there’s no way to test the opposite.
If you think copyright is that effective to create new works you might put forth a cogent argument that lengthening the granted term encourages further creativity (though I’ve not seen one).
But retroactive extension? There’s exactly zero argument the work wouldn’t have been created without it because it has been under the original terms. How the hell do you justify that beyond blatant grasping and sense of entitlement?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

That, however, does not change my opinion of whether any significant growth of public domain works has occurred.

You don’t call 95% “significant”?!??!

What percentage would you consider “significant”? 98%? 99%? 99.99999%?

http://sappingattention.blogspot.ca/2011/01/digital-history-and-copyright-black.html

http://vimeo.com/13821612

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Except that Disney is saying it was copyright that brought you creativity. Well, no. It was people who based classic movies on public domain material that brought you that creativity.

If copyright terms were not extended, Disney would have still become a media behemoth. Copyright did nothing for Disney other than increase it’s costs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The two (copyright and building on the public domain) are not incompatible.

You think Disney would have put all that money into movies based on PD stories if they couldn’t get a copyright on the result? I don’t.

Copyright and the public domain built Disney.

I have a hard time taking you seriously if you think copyright did nothing for Disney, and they are just a gaggle of highly-successful fools lobbying against their interests.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The allegation is that “Steamboat Willie” is based on the film Steamboat Bill Jr., which is ridiculous on its face if you ever bother to watch the two films in question.

Steamboat Bill Jr. is a silent Buster Keaton film about a college boy returning home and fighting to win the affections of his sweetheart. “Steamboat Willie” is a Disney cartoon about a mouse-like creature who plays the song “Turkey in the Straw” using the animals on his boat as instruments. (It should be noted that Disney did pay for the right to use that melody) Other than the fact that they both take place on steamboats, they share virtually no elements.

People are either very misinformed, or are being willfully disingenuous when they claim that the Disney cartoon is based on the Keaton film. The only similarity is the occurrence of “steamboat” in both titles, which is not afforded protection by copyright.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The point is that Disney refuses to let their own material fall into the public domain, and keeps pushing to extend copyright further and further to keep that from happening. This means nobody can be inspired by Disney’s work to create something new the way Disney was inspired by earlier works. If Disney is still in business in 400 years, should they be able to keep perpetuating their copyright?

Imagine if the Grimm Brothers or Shakespeare were still under copyright.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

No, that is the point of the article. People are saying Disney shouldn’t have copyright, which is not what the article is about. The irony presented in the article is that copyright didn’t need to be extended for Disney’s sake, and that Disney’s material should enter the public domain the same way the material that inspired Disney, like The Jungle Book, entered the public domain.

It’s not really Disney’s fault though, but the politicians.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Just point me in the direction of any feature-length animated movie created in that time frame without the intent of recouping expenses through some copyright-based mechanism, and I’ll seriously consider your point.

Except that’s a moot point and misleading. There is no way to know what works might have been created had copyright not existed at all. With copyright in existence the playing field isn’t level and given the option, which would you choose? Take your chances in the marketplace where someone else can also compete to profit off your work once released, or take the offered monopoly?

You can make an argument either way as to whether they would have been created or not in a hypothtical sense, but the lack of existence (at least I can’t think of one) proves nothing for or against.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You think Disney would have put all that money into movies based on PD stories if they couldn’t get a copyright on the result? I don’t.

They may not have back then. Publishing, distribution, and marketing was expensive when Disney was founded. But today, if the copyright terms were the same as back then, there are many creators who would be more than willing to create based on those stories. The way to monetize works is ever evolving and Disney’s extreme stance on copyright is preventing others from taking advantage of the benefits Disney had at inception.

Dionaea (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“You think Disney would have put all that money into movies based on PD stories if they couldn’t get a copyright on the result? I don’t.”

Neither do I, but what is also worth noting is that apparently Walt found the copyright term at the time plenty to start a business based on it. For me the problem isn’t so much the entire thing called “copyright”, it’s the fact that studios like Disney are trying to extend copyright to eternity. The original term of copyright was fine and a nice way to reward creators for their contribution to culture and the public domain. It’s what came after that turned copyright into the monstrosity it is today.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Jimmy Cagney said?

No, Walt Disney (the man I mean) wasn’t alive or head of Disney by the time the Sonny Bono Act came in which extended media copyright terms to 70 years after the death of a creator. Sonny Bono screwed Cher out of her earnings on their works because of his greed and he lobbied to have the terms of copyright extended. For a while, Cher couldn’t even use her own name on any label whatsoever for some 30 years or so.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re:

I do think we can take a lack of anyone creating feature-length animated movies in the universe that did exist as evidence

Evidence of what though?

Hmm let’s see if I can make my point the other way round… imagine a world in which it was decided back in the early days of the internet when it was tiny and mostly academic that it was the right of every citizen to have a connection… the major governments of the world get together and mandate that the budding ISPs must sell any citizen who wants one a connection and strictly limit prices by law so that everyone can afford it (welfare available). You could probably have a good go at imagining the sort of ISPs and supporting structure that would grow up around such a law

Scroll forward to the hypotherical today in that world… I imagine that the availability of internet might be slightly improved over today, but probably at a cost of the speed and usability that we enjoy here in the real world…

But more to the point I’m damn sure there’d be a lot of people (probably including the ISPs who’d be pretty much on a nice cushy semi-guaranteed income) claiming “We’d never have even a fraction of the internet we have today without that law”. If you were in that world, could you imagine this one?

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re:

Ah… then I misunderstood what you were getting at as a standard troll attempt to discount the public domain from having much at all to do with copyrighted work and got a little over-rambo’d-up… very convoluted thread… my bad

On the other hand, having gone back and read the “offending” sentance I think maybe you’re making a bit much of it. I can’t pretend to know what was in Mike Masnick’s mind when he wrote it, but in context I’d read it as meaning
“Disney’s creativity wasn’t brought to the world because of copyright (since we just talked about them using PD and out of copyright works as basis for their most popular stuff especially when they started), but often in spite of copyright (since we just talked about them procuring the mouse and some other things from other copyrighted work), so it’s a bit rich them claiming it’s all about the copyright.

I read it as 2 separate though linked clauses not directly referential to each other, maybe that’s just me – but it also explains why I missed your point the first time.

ld says:

Re:

“You are free to go back to the original fairy tales and work out your own version”
Actually, no you’re not, at least not a cartoon version, unless you wish for a cease and desist from Disney’s lawyers.
Which is the problem. They have sought and obtained repeated copyright extensions for stuff that was derivative works in the first place and don’t want to allow them to go to the public domain on time as they should. If Kipling’s estate would’ve pushed for and received such last minute garbage legislation as these idiots have asked for repeatedly, Disney wouldn’t have made a mint off of selling merchandise related to “The Jungle Book”, as well as several other things they did with some of Kipling’s characters, like the “talespin” cartoon series.

Manuel says:

Freelance Ilustrators

I have a question.
I see thousand of freelance ilustrators selling digital cliparts (In ETSY and similar shops..) of re-interpretations of old public domain fairy tales which means re-interpretations of Disney characters. They are not the same, but inspired in (here you can choose) Old public domain fairy tales or Disney re-interpretations.

Is this illegal? Can Disney go against this thousand of freelance ilustrators selling their own inspired original work? Do Disney blocked the copyright for this creations too?

The freelance ilustratiors obviously sell their original work to people to use to print the cliparts on any surface they wish…. Does this means that the one who legaly buy from one of those freelance ilustrators is infringin any copyright too?

Thanks!

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