Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

The Copyright Battle Over Bambi

from the a-true-Disney-story dept

If you've ever heard Larry Lessig's stump speech on creativity and copyright, you know that it has a chunk in the middle dedicated to the fact that Disney, one of the biggest proponents of copyright extension to keep Mickey Mouse protected, has a long history of taking the ideas of others and reusing them in their own stories. In fact, the biggest irony is the fact that Disney "stole" (using their language) the very idea behind Mickey Mouse's Steamboat Willie debut from Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill -- which came out the same year. Plenty of other popular Disney movies all came from using content in the public domain -- but not all of it. William Patry goes through the court battle from about a decade ago where questions were raised about Disney's rights to the story of Bambi. Turns out they might not really have owned the rights to it. Patry focuses on the case and why the ruling is exceptionally bad, but even more interesting to me is the lengths Disney went to try to win the case. As Patry notes, they basically threw out every possible argument to see what stuck, including claiming that Bambi was really in the public domain and then that it wasn't in the public domain, but that Disney owned the rights to it, rather than the heirs of the author of the story. So whenever Disney claims some moral right to keep extending copyright, it seems like the Bambi fight is worth pointing out as a counter example alongside the Steamboat Willie story.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Chris, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:15pm

    Factoid or article?

    Just what exactly is this getting at?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jo Mamma, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:23pm

    lawyer double-speak

    The fact that lawyers are claiming one thing, then another, then another is nothing new -- even if those statements contradict one another.

    It is basically throwing theories at the judge/jury (whatever the case may be) and see which one holds traction.

    Every (good) lawyer does this and, in reality, is probably the least worst way to conduct law.

    They do have a fancy name for this methodology -- it's called pleading in the alternative, and like I said it's about as common in the courtroom as bullshit is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:38pm

    Sheer genius: Copyright is good for content owners and bad for everyone else. Never would have figured that out on my own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    TW Burger, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 3:45pm

    Re: lawyer double-speak

    This is one of the best synopsis of a legal system I have ever read.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Paul, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 4:50pm

    agree with #1

    This seems less of an article and more like a factoid.
    The only thing recent about this 'article" is the blog that it was stolen from, but even the author of the blog admits he is writing about an old topic (most recent related occurrence being 1996)

    Slow news day or what?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    I Am Bambi Bitch, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Bambi is balllin

    Yoooooooooooooooooo! i am bambi and i love to be ballllin on yoo wives while u are pstin on dis shizzzz boiiii!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    plastic molding, May 16th, 2009 @ 3:44am


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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    newest jordan shoes, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 12:12am

    newest jordan shoes

    This was a useful post and I think it is rather easy to see from the other comments as well that this post is well written and useful

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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