Crowdsourcing A List Of How Disney Uses The Public Domain

from the something-useful dept

We've written plenty of times about the importance of the public domain around here, and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public domain has been Disney, a company which has regularly mined the public domain for the stories it then recreates and copyrights. Of course, somewhat depressingly, Disney also has been one of the most extreme players in keeping anything new out of the public domain, as pointed out by Tom Bell's excellent "mickey mouse curve" showing how Disney has sought to push out the term of copyrights every time Mickey Mouse gets near the public domain.
All this despite the fact that Mickey Mouse was almost certainly was an infringing work when it was created, copying multiple sources that were still covered by copyright. Oh, and also there's evidence that Disney screwed up its early copyright registrations on Mickey Mouse, suggesting that it really already is in the public domain, even if Disney will never admit that.

Either way, as we get closer to the next attempt to extend copyright terms in the US (and you know it's coming), Derek Khanna has decided to crowdsource a list of all of the public domain works that Disney has relied on over the years. He's also looking for revenue figures on all of those works, in an attempt to show just how much Disney has profited off of the public domain (and hopefully to shut up those who argue that when a work falls into the public domain, it suddenly loses its value). As Khanna notes:
While Disney took and reused from the public domain, none of the works created by Disney, including derivative works based upon public domain works, have entered the public domain for others to build upon. And if current policy is extended — they never will.

MPAA/RIAA/Disney lobby Congress and inform the public that copyright should last forever because it’s their “property” and that it’s never ok to use or build upon their property without paying. Under the content industry’s vernacular, if taking and remixing other people’s work without paying for it is always stealing then the Disney Corporation is responsible for one of the greatest thefts in world history.
If you can, please help and contribute to the list of public domain works that Disney has relied upon.


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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    So much for subtlety...

    From source page:

    14. Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1894 copyright, movie released just one year after copyright expired)

    Revenue = $205.8 million


    Barely even waited(if at all, wouldn't surprise me if the movie was already in production and they just waited until the wouldn't have to pay out for it) until pushing it out, and yet, if copyright duration was the same then as it was now, that $205 million likely wouldn't exist, as the story would have only entered the public domain in 2006.

    No problem taking from the public domain, but they sure are loathe to ever contribute to it, or otherwise allow it to grow... hypocrisy, thy name is Disney.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:07am

      Re: So much for subtlety...

      Disney doesn't believe in seeding, only leaching.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 3:41pm

      Re: So much for subtlety...

      Jungle book...creation time was 4 years so they'd started using sweatshop animators in korea/japan etc 3 years before the book was available to use.

      - they even had backup plans to rename characters/movie title in the case that somehow Jungle Book wouldn't be available.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    about par for the course really. the most adverse to smoking is the former smoker. same obviously applies to copyright, certainly as far as Disney is concerned anyway!

     

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    bob, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

    People like the copyright deniers around here like to make Disney into a one-way sinkhole where ideas from the public domain get sucked in but never escape. The reality is that Disney nurtures a very fertile creative world and gives much more than it gets.

    I'm not talking about the kind of direct copyright that the lazy couchpotatoes around here like to think of as "fair use." They defend their copyright and they definitely punish people who are too lazy to do their own work.

    But once you start creating yourself, Disney ends up giving quite a bit. Parody, after all, is a protected use and there an uncountable number of parodies of Disney films and works everywhere.

    Consider the standard complaint that Disney "stole" the story of the "Lion King". There are definite similarities, but if some TechDirt reader did the same thing, Mike would be calling out "fair use, fair use, fair use." Regardless, it's easy to see all of the different reuses of the simple act of holding the young lion cub out over Pride Rock.

    There are a gazillion examples of parody out there. If you add them all up, it's clear that Disney is GIVING much more than it is taking from the public domain.

    I think we should celebrate Disney and the profit motive for keeping so many artists employed. Furthermore, their defense of their hard work and copyright forces more people to get off their butt and do a bit of original creative work. Without their zealous defense of copyright, everyone would just cut and paste the first thing they could find on the web. This is a great multiplier for creativity.

    Hurray for Disney! Hurray for copyright!

     

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      Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:33am

      Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

      You're holding up fair use parodies as an example of Disney actively giving back to the public?

      First off, copyright is not about keeping artists employed. Copyright's end goal is to enrich the public by (eventually) giving it access to creative works.

      Second...fair use parodies are parodies done under fair use, which means without needing Disney's permission. That is not a case of Disney actively giving back to the public, more that they cannot claim copyright infringement. Even then, the threat of your fair use work being sued over hangs over everybody's head like the Sword of Damocles, since fair use is determined on a case-by-case basis. Disney, being a large corporation, maintains a large number of skilled lawyers, and would doubtlessly think nothing of destroying your fair use work in a court of law.

      The fact of the matter is that Disney relied heavily on the public domain to make its movies, but has not allowed their own works to pass into the public domain, so everybody else can reuse them without fear of being sued into oblivion. As it is, the only way that someone can legally use a Disney work is in parody, which is NOT the same thing as being able to use a work entirely and in any way you see fit, like what Disney saw fit to do in its early years.

       

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        bob, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

        Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

        Uh, how do you think that the public gets artistic works if the artists can't eat and get health care? It's not a chicken or egg thing. Finding a way to feed and clothe artists will increase the amount of art in society.

        (And btw, you're perverting the phrase in the constitution. It's not to promote the "public domain", it's to promote "progress." There's a HUGE difference. The public domain is a vast desert. Have you read the essay "Death of the Commons"? It's about the public domain. )

        What is sad is how uncreative and literal everyone is around here. You would think that the only way that Disney can give back is to let people make unrestricted copies of their work. But that's not how Disney borrowed from the public domain either. They didn't take some public domain video and make verbatim copies. Nope. They refilmed everything and reworked it. That's what parodists do and that's how people have been borrowing from Disney for years.

        I have no sympathy for the low-grade plagiarists who think that they're being hampered by Disney's enforcement of copyright. We lose nothing by their failure. They're just a bunch of copycat leeches.

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Parody
          A parody (/ˈpærədi/; also called spoof, send-up, take-off or lampoon), in current use, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on or trivialize[citation needed] an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of satiric or ironic imitation.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody

          Under fair use, that is the only way I can take and make use of a copyrighted Disney work. (That or a review or for educational purposes).

          Compare that with using a public domain work, where any and all usage of a work is allowed.

          Saying that I should be happy at being allowed to make parodies is a slap in the face. I am not happy. Disney exercised their right to mine other people's works in order to create their own. There was no limit placed on them on what exact form their work could take.
          However, when it comes to Joe Blow, the same is not true. Joe Blow cannot do whatever he likes with Steamboat Willie or any other of a list of Disney movies that should have entered the public domain long ago. The only thing that Joe Blow can do is mock, comment or trivialize. He cannot continue produce and sell a movie sequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs telling the story of how the Seven Dwarfs came to the rescue of Snow White's children, or whatever storyline he comes up with.
          No, the form and execution of everybody else's work is already heavily limited when it comes to using Disney's work.

           

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          Richard (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Uh, how do you think that the public gets artistic works if the artists can't eat and get health care? It's not a chicken or egg thing. Finding a way to feed and clothe artists will increase the amount of art in society.

          This would do it - and would cost us less than copyright does.
          The public domain is a vast desert. Have you read the essay "Death of the Commons"? It's about the public domain.

          I googled - death of the commons - and I got this

          http://onthecommons.org/magazine/tragic-death-commons-hero

          I don't think it's what you were referring to (though you should read it). I think you were referring to the "tragedy of the commons" which is about common land not common culture.

          There is an important difference between land and culture - land is a finite resource whereas culture is infinitely reproducible. If you understood that difference you would realise that your position is untenable.

          To quote the relevant wikipedia article

          "The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory by Garrett Hardin, according to which the depletion of a shared resource by individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, act contrary to the group's long-term best interests by depleting the common resource. "

          Basic point here - the public domain is not a finite resource that can be depleted. Total Analogy Failure.

           

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            Pragmatic, Jan 30th, 2014 @ 7:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

            Basic point here - the public domain is not a finite resource that can be depleted. Total Analogy Failure.


            O RLY? So what do you call it when an item is yoinked from the public domain into copyright by a retroactive application of increased copyright terms?

            Sir Paul McCartney has this problem. He's like an old man running to catch up with the bus, and as soon as he's about to touch the end, it takes off again. He has to pay royalties to Sony to play songs he wrote himself!

             

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              Richard (profile), Jan 30th, 2014 @ 12:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

              O RLY? So what do you call it when an item is yoinked from the public domain into copyright by a retroactive application of increased copyright terms?

              OK maybe I should have said "the public domain is not a finite resource that can be depleted by use".

              When it comes to being depleted by being fenced off by some wealthy/powerful land/copyright owner then that is a different matter.

              In any case we are on the same side here - I totally agree with your other points.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 3:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          You are absolutely right. Due to Jungle Book having gone out of copyright Rudyard Kipling hasn't eaten a damn thing or written anything since 1936.....we need to bring copyright extensions retroactively back to the 1800s so dear old Rudyard can start writing again.....

           

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          JMT (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          "Uh, how do you think that the public gets artistic works if the artists can't eat and get health care?"

          Most artists get paid fees for their work and the film studio, record label or book publisher keeps the copyright. Those fees pay for food and healthcare. If those artists want more food and healthcare, they do more work. It’s remarkably like the system used by most of the world’s workers.

          "What is sad is how uncreative and literal everyone is around here. You would think that the only way that Disney can give back is to let people make unrestricted copies of their work. But that's not how Disney borrowed from the public domain either. They didn't take some public domain video and make verbatim copies. Nope. They refilmed everything and reworked it."

          You’re arguing against a complete strawman. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is arguing for the right to make unrestricted copies of Disney’s work. They are arguing for the right to do exactly what you describe Disney did, i.e. take public domain work and recreate their own version.

          When Disney made their classic old films based on public domain material, they were able to do so by taking advantage of much shorter copyright lengths. Since then they have actively and continuously campaigned to change copyright laws to prevent others from doing just what they did. It’s despicable and indefensible.

          "That's what parodists do and that's how people have been borrowing from Disney for years."

          Parody has nothing to do with this discussion. Bringing it up is either meant to be a distraction or it just shows your lack of understanding of the subject.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:44am

      Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

      Consider the standard complaint that Disney "stole" the story of the "Lion King". There are definite similarities, but if some TechDirt reader did the same thing, Mike would be calling out "fair use, fair use, fair use."

      He would for a very good reason, the people who relied on fair use would be crying copyright infringement. The big corporations why rely on others to create the works that they sell call fair use or infringement depending on which best serves their distorted view of the world. That view is that they should control and profit from all creative works.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:50am

      Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

      Bob if they were giving back to the public domain I would be able to create my own Mickey Mouse cartoon and sell it online. Unfortunately because of some extensions in copyright I seem to be unable to do so.

       

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        bob, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

        Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

        Boy you're not very creative, are you? Is your only definition of giving back letting you make verbatim copies of Mickey Mouse? That's not what Disney did when they made the Lion King. They reworked it heavily, changing names and creating new characters.

        I guarantee you can do something like that right now with any of the Disney works. The key question is whether you're merely copying their work or bringing something new to the world.

        I have no sympathy for the leeches who just want to copy.

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:26pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          "Boy you're not very creative, are you? Is your only definition of giving back letting you make verbatim copies of Mickey Mouse? "

          Not the only definition but one that everyone should be able to enjoy.
          If I wanted to, I could print out right now 5,000 copies of the complete works of Shakespeare and sell them. No editing or changing, just the direct text from his plays. I would have no fear of being sued.
          Why is it that I can't do the same with Steamboat Willie or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Boy you're not very creative, are you? Is your only definition of giving back letting you make verbatim copies of Mickey Mouse?

          Why are you misrepresenting the previous commenter? They asked why they could not do with Micky Mouse What Disney did with thee lion king. That is not copying, that is exercising the same skill as Disney used to create their own works, but does not want anyone to do with what Disney has created.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 3:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Actually what they did when creating the Lion King was to rotoscope/draw FRAME BY FRAME over an existing Japanese Cartoon called Kimba the lion (and then dub over with celebrity voices)

           

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          Jay (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 3:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Is your only definition of giving back letting you make verbatim copies of Mickey Mouse?

          Making three circles in the shape of a mouse head should not be copyright infringement.

          That's not what Disney did when they made the Lion King. They reworked it heavily, changing names and creating new characters.

          No they didn't. Michael Eisner got a lot of heat for literally stealing the work when the artists made it as an homage to Kimba the White Lion. And Eisner is known for being an horrible manager.

          I have no sympathy for the leeches who just want to copy.

          And that's exactly why we should stop Disney from stealing from the public domain.

           

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          techflaws (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 10:48pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          Is your only definition of giving back letting you make verbatim copies of Mickey Mouse?

          No, of the Jungle Book.

           

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      cpt kangarooski, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:40pm

      Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

      But once you start creating yourself, Disney ends up giving quite a bit. Parody, after all, is a protected use and there an uncountable number of parodies of Disney films and works everywhere.

      Wrong.

      Not all parodies are protected as fair use; all fair uses depend on the precise circumstances. In fact, Disney has sued parodists before, and has done so successfully. (E.g. The Air Pirates case from the 1970s) however, when a parody or other use is fair, the user is entitled to engage in that use whether the copyright holder likes it or not. In fact, since fair uses must by definition be prima facile infringing uses, Disney can never permit fair uses.

      I think we should celebrate Disney and the profit motive for keeping so many artists employed. Furthermore, their defense of their hard work and copyright forces more people to get off their butt and do a bit of original creative work. Without their zealous defense of copyright, everyone would just cut and paste the first thing they could find on the web. This is a great multiplier for creativity.

      Copyright is not intended to keep artists employed. And Disney is well known for laying off large numbers of artists casually and at the drop of a hat; copyright has nothing to do with it.

      And if original creative work is so good (really it's no better or worse than derivative work), why doesn't Disney do more of it? They are, after all, famous for using public domain stories. If you were not a hypocrite and a moron, you'd likely be fairly rankled about Disney's creative laziness, given your position thus far.

       

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      jameshogg (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

      Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

      There is an easy way to completely falsify your position. If Disney had said "no" to the crossover/derivative work Kingdom Hearts, everybody would have missed out on a lot of added value to the video games industry. Many jobs would have been cast aside, and life, liberty and property in general would have been spat on.

      But that nonetheless does happen. It happens to all the derivative works Disney is saying no to right at this moment, which far outnumber the singular original works. THAT'S what it means to trample on property rights (intellectual property rights, as a matter of fact).

      My quarrel is this: they should not have the power to say no to such derivative works, let alone the ability to legally regulate their own power through lobbying. If it wasn't for copyright preventing assurance contracts from fully flourishing in the economy, both Disney's works AND the derivative works including Kingdom Hearts would have come about WITHOUT the need for Disney's permission. Crowdfunding "works without the assumption" of copyright, to paraphrase Laplace. And the projects will easily tally profits in the millions (billions?) once it becomes mainstream.

      I happily accept that Disney had a right to derive from the anime Kimba the White Lion. They had a right to do so. So what? In fact I would defend Disney against anybody (yourself included) who tried to prevent them from bringing something great to many audiences. And even if I didn't think so, my hypothetical hypocrisy wouldn't say anything about the truth of your argument.

      I'm not going to have it from you that Disney's permission on the creation of Kingdom Hearts is the determining factor of the fruits of labour of that product, and that their saying "no" to it somehow immediately revokes the work and effort of the hundreds of artists and musicians and programmers and designers, and thousands of hours of sweat and tears they poured into it. To say that their work "doesn't belong to them" if Disney says so is disgraceful. How dare you talk about these hard-working artists like that. How dare you deny the EXISTENCE of their work by so disgustingly claiming it is not their work at all.

      You cannot one the one had claim that the unique symphonies of non-property musical notes, for example, entitles you to claim ownership over those symphonies, and then on the other hand immediately claim those symphonies are not unique after all, because they "overlap" with other possible derivative symphonies and therefore all those derivatives belong to you to. If symphonies are truly unique, no overlap should exist. This is copyright's great paradox that nobody will ever reconcile.

      If somebody cobbles together a shit product - "cut and pasted" from the web as you say - that would have taken anybody 5 minutes to make, they will obviously not be able to sell it as well (or crowdfund it as well, in my economic philosophy minus copyright) because its value would be so bad, and they will not get far. You are acting paranoid over nothing.

      The determining factor that separates 5 minute works from the much better stuff is not the "intangible" attributes of intellectual property as John Locke might say, but the SERVICE, which is the under-appreciated form of intellectual property. And crowfunding so beautifully captures this in the way that copyright cannot hope to do so.

      I don't accept that parody should be the only form of permitted derivative work. Believe it or not there are other forms of deriving and adding value, and the only reason "parody" gets more favourable reception is because satire - irony and humour - are things that solidify freedom of expression much clearer than, say, serious stories of characters growing up and reflecting on their past tales, or alternative "what if?" viewpoints that add to the debate with the power of great metaphors. These things do exist, believe it or fucking not. And every time copyright stamps them out they attack the very core principles of the dialectic. When it comes to freedom of expression vs. ownership of expression, freedom has to win.

      Somebody like you should really put your money where your mouth is and call for the mass-infringing, profit-making website deviantArt to be shut down. You know... in the name of "advancing creativity", and such. That is, if you have the guts.

       

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        bob, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:13pm

        Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

        How dare I? You act as if Disney is some robot or Borg. It's a bunch of living, breathing artists. They work long and hard on their films. The only way they can feed their families or pay for health care is to sell access to their work.

        Let's turn this around. Why SHOULDN'T the artists at Disney get to share in the work of others who wouldn't be there if it weren't for Disney's hard work in the past? Why should these new guys get to stiff the past generation just because some copyright deniers from the Internet want to get something for free?

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          " It's a bunch of living, breathing artists. They work long and hard on their films."

          Are all the artists who worked on all the Disney movies still alive? All artists, from the founding of the company right up to today?

           

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            PaulT (profile), Jan 30th, 2014 @ 3:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

            In his world, yes. It's the only defence he has - pretending that living artists are dependant upon these works, rather than the truth that it's a corporation profiting from the works of long-dead artists at the expense of the very public domain that allowed them to create in the first place.

            For some reason, fantasy alternate universe are what these guys need to base their arguments upon. Cold, hard reality destroys their screeds every time.

             

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          jameshogg (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: And lets have a list of how often the public borrows from Disney...

          And still, none of your rhetoric about defending artists' rights has been applied towards defending derivative artists. They are expendable, I take it? You haven't attempted to address my points, while I clearly addressed yours.

          Let me repeat, then. Both original artists and derivative artists are protected when you throw away copyright and embrace assurance contracts. Disney's artists are not being opposed here. They are being treated equally with derivative artists, who are hard-working artists just as much as they are.

          And if you don't think it can be done with crowdfunding, take note: Rockstar recently recouperated all of their production costs for one of the "most expensive video games ever made" through a crowdfunding-like system called pre-orders. No copyright is needed when you force everyone to pay up first, and threaten withholding the game until everyone pays their dues - consumers and corporations alike. In fact, you STOP pirates from stealing with this philosophy because you make them responsible for their actions. You have no excuse for copyright in the face of this, and you certainly have no excuse to say derivative artists have no right to open up brand-new expressions to audiences.

           

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    Christenson, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:24am

    Mickey Mouse GAME (Curve, My FOOT!)

    That is, it is clearly a game, and it deserves a proper name! Everyone, please steal my subject line!

     

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2014 @ 3:42am

      Re: Mickey Mouse GAME (Curve, My FOOT!)

      I made a board game called "Mickey Mouse Finance" over a decade ago. The Accounting department at the college kept it and use it as a learning tool for new students of finance.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    If Disney is just pillaging the public domain and creating derivative works how, exactly, is putting their stuff in the public domain helping anyone? Since, ultimately, you end up with derivatives of derivatives...

    It seems to me this is a pretty flaccid argument against copyright since those works are freely available for anyone to knock-off (as the metric ton of terrible animated, err, derivatives, that accompany every Disney release will attest and which Disney makes no effort to block since, uh, they're public domain).

     

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      art guerrilla (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:34pm

      Re:

      ?que?
      while i'm not saying you are 100% 'wrong', i don't recall that every -or ANY- disney releases had a raft of copycats released at the same time based on the same public domain story...
      as they say on the interwebs: citation ?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      Knock-off? Going all cheese and copying/recreating is lame to do anyway and likely not even sellable if the original has any public awareness at all!

      Taking characters and placing them in a different universe, taking longer word-exchanges and using in a new context and taking the story elements and using in a unique way, now that is the essence of being creative!
      Using public domain works is an insurrance against getting sued (or having to recall etc.) for infringement if you are the least in doubt. It is extremely difficult to learn every cranny of copyright law. And the paperwork and license you will have to pay in case of you asking the author is making small scale creativity very unprofitable and work-intensive in an unproductive way...

      The main argument here is the hypocricy of Disney and not that some of their work is inspired by public domain.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:37am

    What exact work was copied -- not idea, name a WORK.

    "Mickey Mouse was almost certainly was an infringing work when it was created, copying multiple sources that were still covered by copyright." -- Citation needed. Besides that, if those sources didn't complain then, you've no standing to now. That's the way copyright works: sets out standing for only the creator of a work to pursue civil suits, doesn't give anyone else rights.

    AND the source Mike re-wrote from basically just COPIED my offhand tagline from several months back:

    If you advocate taking copyright away from Disney after its long abuse and extension, then FINE! -- But don't at same time empower today's mega-corporations to steal creative works from the poor. Those are not similar cases. Doing away with ALL copyright is even more criminal than the current mess. -- Make a means test for copyright, prohibit it entirely to corporations, and prevent them from raiding the public domain. (115 of 192)

    07:35:52[i-226-7]

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:42pm

      Re: What exact work was copied -- not idea, name a WORK.

      "That's the way copyright works: sets out standing for only the creator of a work to pursue civil suits,"

      The creator of Mickey Mouse is long dead, so does that mean it is no longer protected by Copywrong?

      I think not.

      Try again moron!

       

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    Alfred Marzipan Bar, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    Oh yeh right

    The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation. For the public good.

    Your car, for example. After 20 years, we can all take it from you. We need it to give poor people a ride to work. Gimme.

    The book you wrote 35 years ago. Too long. It's an income-generating property for you still? We need the income to feed starving children. Gimme.

    Your cash. You've had it in the bank so long. We can build a homeless shelter with it. Too long. Gimme.

    When does it stop? It's MINE. Hands off.

     

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      Geno0wl (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:52am

      Re: Oh yeh right

      I didn't realize your car was publicly used by millions and contributed to the American culture for decades.
      Could have fooled me.

       

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      JEDIDIAH, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:57am

      Re: Oh yeh right

      > The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation. For the public good.

      That's "private property rights" in things built with public resources. It's like logging Yellowstone to build your house and claiming that it's your exclusive property.

      Sophocles wants his cut.

       

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      Vincent Clement (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:58am

      Re: Oh yeh right

      A book (or whatever content) entering the public domain does not prevent you from still selling the original version of that book.

      Generic versions of Tylenol and Aspirin are widely available, yet McNeil-PPC continues to sell Tylenol and Bayer continues to sell Aspirin.

       

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      Jeff (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:00pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      perhaps if it's to be considered private property - they should be paying private property taxes on it then?

       

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      Baron von Robber, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      "The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation."

      They were given the best compensation you can ask for. A government sanctioned monolopy.
      That's some pretty damn good compensation.

       

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      Rekrul, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation. For the public good.

      Did you miss the part where the law clearly states that copyrights are for a limited time?

      Of course in today's world, they're unlimited as far as the author is concerned, since they extend for almost a century after their death.

      And if the public domain is such a horrible thing, let's see Disney cough up a percentage of its earnings from every movie it has based on public domain stories and donate that money to the heirs of those authors. Think that will happen any time soon?

       

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      Pub Editor, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      "The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation."

      The owners have already received their compensation -- during the copyright term -- in the form of state-sanctioned and court-enforced right to stop others from copying, using, or building upon the copyrighted work. Why do you think that it is *theft* for the government to say, "We will enforce this exclusive right of yours, but only for a limited time"?

      No one is taking your car from you. But your owning a car is not the same as the government saying that only you may own a car.

      Not all property works the same. IP is a tradeoff. The state says, "In order to encourage you to invest blood, sweat and tears into your invention, we will grant you a right, for 20 years, to STOP other people from using your invention." It is a right of exclusion, rather than a right of use, and that right of exclusion comes with a built-in expiration date. Which is what Art. 1, sec. 8 of the US Constitution expressly intends when it talks about "a limited time."

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:11pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      You are trying to place physical restraints on a concept. You can't. What you meant is after 20 years we can duplicate your car without your permissions and then give poor people a ride in it. But if we want to use your concept and extend it further, why not consider your car a movie that you made. Each part of that car came from someone else. The wheel, a hit that was produce 60 years ago. Then 30 years a go the engine was a blockbuster. Then why are we not giving the person who invented the wheel money? You took that idea from 60 years ago and built off of that? Then your engine, Some one built that 30 years ago and you took that. Why did you pay them for every time you use your car? So it is all right for you to take from other but not the other way around? What gives you the right to take from others but then lock it up so no one else can use it?

       

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      Paul Clark, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      You are missing the point. Copy right is not a absolute right. It is a negotiated right between consumers and content producers. It was created to encourage content by giving content produces a short-term monopoly on their works so they would be encouraged to create more content.

      Extending copyright forever flies against this goal. If I own the work forever, I can create a single work that is popular and never produce any additional content.

      In the digital age, does copyright ever make sense?

       

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      That One Guy (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      When does it stop? It's MINE. Hands off.

      Tell you what, how's this for a trade-off: you get to control, permanently, every copyright protected idea and item you come up with, but only those things that aren't based off of, derived from, inspired by, or are otherwise building off of the works of others that came before you.

      If you're going to use culture and public domain works and ideas to build your works, and the throw a fit when someone does the same with your creations, it does nothing more than expose your double standards and greed, the idea of 'It's okay for me to build off of what the public creates, but I'll be damned if I let them build off of my works in return!'

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re: Oh yeh right

        its not double standards, its a stupid argument to say that the public domain can you used by freetards and not by anyone else.

        So freaking what if Disney uses the public domain, I am sure Masnick uses the public domain a lot too, does Masnick using the public domain and making money of copyrighted works makes what Masnick does wrong?

        No, of course not, that would be stupid, you're not stupid are you?

         

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          Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Oh yeh right

          Do you even know what the public domain is and what it means to use it?

          The public domain is ALL creative works - movies, books, plays, songs, cartoons, TV shows, what have you - whose copyright term has expired or were never under copyright to begin with. Every single person on this planet is at liberty to use say Shakespeare's plays to create their own versions and not have to seek permission from or pay any descendants of Shakespeare or his estate or some sort of corporation controlling his works.
          If Disney were to tomorrow release a movie based on Shakespeare, that would be great. They're using other people's works to create their own. However, thanks to their lobbying efforts over the decades, I would be dead long before I would have the legal right to use their movie to create my own, just as they did before.

          It is double standards. Disney is saying to the world "We are Disney. We should be free to take other people's works and use them to create movies that generate tens of millions of dollars for us, but you people? No, you can't use our works to do the same!"

           

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      cpt kangarooski, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      Your car, for example. After 20 years, we can all take it from you. We need it to give poor people a ride to work. Gimme.

      Your cash. You've had it in the bank so long. We can build a homeless shelter with it. Too long. Gimme.


      We do have this. It's a wealth tax. Property taxes are a common type of wealth tax, limited to wealth in the form of real property. But general wealth taxes are known and are not really uncommon.

      As for your copyright example though, it's stunningly wrong. Copyrights are only ever granted for limited terms. So it's more like the author is lent something for a limited time, and is obligated to give it back when the deadline arrives. While he has borrowed it, he's free to use it for his own benefit, but he doesn't get to determine the deadline or change it or avoid it.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      No, the public domain whereby the government says "You know that story you told years ago? We will no longer be breaking people's kneecaps for repeating it, nor will we let you break their kneecaps for it either."

      They aren't seizing your property, they're removing a temporary protection. Said protection just keeps others from repeating what you say, and some would consider to technically be an infringement on free speech.

       

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      The public domain whereby rights in private property are stripped from the owners without compensation


      Not without compensation: the compensation was the period of monopoly that was granted the copyright holder. You make it sound like something is being wrongfully taken from the copyright holders, when in fact, the work entering the public domain is the quo for the period of monopoly's quid.

       

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 30th, 2014 @ 3:54am

      Re: Oh yeh right

      My car? It is a copy that came off of a production line, not out of an artists garage.

      35 years? No incentive to write a new book? Maybe if copyright was 5 years duration, you would have sat on your ass 34 years ago and got writing.

      My cash? It came from selling copyrights, are you saying we shouldn't be able to sell the rights?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 6:17pm

      Re: Oh yeh right

      Socialism requires government. IP laws require government. With IP laws the government provides privileges to IP holders. That's socialism for IP holders.

      A lack of IP laws does not require government. In socialism the government provides. With IP abolition the government stops providing IP privileges.

       

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    Rekrul, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:59am

    Derek Khanna has decided to crowdsource a list of all of the public domain works that Disney has relied on over the years. He's also looking for revenue figures on all of those works, in an attempt to show just how much Disney has profited off of the public domain (and hopefully to shut up those who argue that when a work falls into the public domain, it suddenly loses its value).

    Hmm, sounds a lot like an idea I posted not too long ago in the comments of another article about copyright and the public domain. :)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      and again, so what??? its THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, everyone, and anyone can use it.

      Sure, Mickey might not be on it, but SO WHAT, then don't use Mickey, deal with it.

      But being upset that people and companies use the public domain just makes the authors (who also use public domain for profit) look like morons...

       

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        Rikuo (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem is not just the character of Mickey Mouse or even just Disney movies alone.
        The problem is that thanks to Disney Corp's lobbying efforts, all works are copyrighted to insane lengths. There are tens of millions of cultural works that, without their lobbying, I would be able to use as I see fit...but thanks to them, I can't. Those works are held hostage under copyright.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Re:

        The complaint is not that they used the public domain, it is that they do not want to ever let any of their work go into the public domain, that is they are all take and no give. Further they can use legal costs to stop people taking from the same public domain, by claiming such works infringe the copyright of their derived work.

         

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        Gwiz (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

        Re: Re:

        and again, so what??? its THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, everyone, and anyone can use it.

        Yes. No one has said otherwise.


        Sure, Mickey might not be on it, but SO WHAT, then don't use Mickey, deal with it.

        The problem is that, based on Disney's past actions, Mickey will never end up in the public domain. That goes against the original compromise that the public agreed to. Heck, it even runs afoul of the deal in place when Mickey was originally created. Disney has effectively reneged on their side of the bargain.


        But being upset that people and companies use the public domain just makes the authors (who also use public domain for profit) look like morons...

        That is not what anyone is upset about. What really makes someone look like a moron is commenting on an article that they either didn't read all the way through or didn't understand.

         

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        CFWhitman, Jan 31st, 2014 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re:

        and again, so what??? its THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, everyone, and anyone can use it.

        Nobody said any differently except you. You're missing the point.

        Sure, Mickey might not be on it, but SO WHAT, then don't use Mickey, deal with it.

        It's not like the public domain is a predefined group of works that people donate to. The public domain is anything that is not protected by copyright. The people who wrote those things did not agree to add them to the public domain any more than Disney agreed to add Mickey Mouse to the public domain (which is to say that technically they all agreed to add them when the legal period of copyright expired, but Disney reneged on their agreement by getting copyright law changed retroactively).

        But being upset that people and companies use the public domain just makes the authors (who also use public domain for profit) look like morons...

        Nobody is upset that people and companies use the public domain. That's your invention. The point is that to argue that your works should never become public domain while you use the public domain yourself is the very epitome of hypocrisy. Nobody expects Disney to not use the public domain. What they would like to see is for Disney to admit that allowing newer works than those from before 1923* to enter the public domain at some point was actually desirable for the benefit of future authorship.

        Part of what is amusing about Disney's position is that probably in the long run they would benefit more from being able to use new public domain works that would become available were copyright to be allowed to begin expiring again at some point than they would ever be harmed by their earlier works becoming public domain. However, greedy executives generally don't reason about things like this. They just try to always keep a tight grip.

        *Copyright also protects unpublished works of a company written since 1894 and individually copyrighted works written by authors who died more recently than 1944 or of course have not yet died.

         

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    artp (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:18pm

    Disney specializes in fantasy

    So here's mine:

    Copyright is set back to 28 years.

    Federal marshals invade all the movie companies, confiscate all of the old films and scripts for the public good, and fund the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian to restore as many of those old films and scripts as are technically possible.

    There are too many public domain works rotting away in the movie companies' vaults that aren't even available if you wanted to buy them. Even recent ones from stars who made the mistake of taking the movie companies to court to demand an accounting of royalties. [any James Garner fans out there?]

     

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    Piotr Konieczny, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:24pm

    How about you pay attention to properly attributing CC images?

    The image used here is a clear derivative of the CC-BY-SA https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Copyright_term.svg

    I am trying to figure who violated the license. Techdirt? Whoever uploaded it to the imgur? The artist who modified it and did not respect the license? Sigh...

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

      Re: How about you pay attention to properly attributing CC images?

      I am trying to figure who violated the license.


      Care to explain why you think the licensce was violated?

      From your link:
      This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

      You are free:

      to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work
      to remix – to adapt the work

      Under the following conditions:

      attribution – You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
      share alike – If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.




      Techdirt attributed it with this:

      ...as pointed out by Tom Bell's excellent "mickey mouse curve"...


      I'm not seeing any violation of the CC license at all, care to elaborate?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:35pm

    why do you think you have more of a right to use the public domain than Disney or any other company or group or individual?

    is there some law that says if you have anything that is copyright you are not allowed to use the public domain?

    what kind of crazy, fucked up idea is that ?

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      what kind of crazy, fucked up idea is that ?

      That would be the kind that no one here is actually saying or bringing up.

      You might try actually, I dunno, reading the articles before commenting. Also, not throwing out such obvious straw-man arguments would probably help too.

      No one is saying Disney shouldn't be allowed to use public domain works to build off of and make their movies/creations, the point is that while Disney has made plenty of profits from creations based upon public domain works, they also hate the idea of any of their works ever entering the public domain for other people to build off of, as seen by their constant and continual paid-for-expansions of copyright duration.

       

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    Fushta (profile), Jan 29th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    The Mouse will have its Tail Bitten

    If nothing ever goes into the public domain again, then Disney will not have anything on which to base their stories. Game over. Their wish came true, and it came back to bite them in the tail.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 4:25pm

    darryl, out_of_the_blue, Alfred Marzipan Bar and bob just hate it when due process is enforced.

    Choke on a solar panel, you Prenda fanboys.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 5:39pm

    The word for today is avarice. Selfish Americans.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 5:41am

      Re:

      You mean greedy corporations, right? Instead of casting your net over everyone of a nationality, which is quite a racist move, why not be particular about who is doing what?

       

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    jm, Jan 29th, 2014 @ 11:03pm

    Really interesting Mike, thanks​!​

    I think that you would be really interested in some recent research that I have come across explaining crowds, open innovation, and citizen science.​ ​In particular I feel you may find these two emerging pieces of research very relevant:

    - The Theory of Crowd Capital
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2193115

    - The Contours of Crowd Capability
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2324637

    Powerful stuff, no?

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Jan 30th, 2014 @ 3:58am

      Re:

      If you've got a paper, or some other research you'd like TD to perhaps cover, the best way to get in contact with them is via the 'Submit a story' link at the bottom of the page, posting the links in the comments section isn't likely to accomplish much.

       

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    Just Sayin', Jan 30th, 2014 @ 2:03am

    Symmetrical argument fails...

    There is no requirement of symmetry in copyright. That Disney looked at all of mankind's history and all of the stories, fables, and whatnot as inspiration or source material does not preclude them from getting a copyright on their work.

    Further, unlike MANY copyright holders, Disney continues to maintain, support, and distribute their works, moving them to new formats and using new technology to update them and make them fresh for generations. If there is a group that deserve to retain the rights on their work, it would be Disney.

    Other creators have the same toolbox to work from that Disney did. I sense a whole lot of sour grapes because they can't do as well as Disney has done, are unwilling to make the investments that Disney made, and are unable to match the near timeless success of the Disney products.

     

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      V, Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 8:58pm

      Re: Symmetrical argument fails...

      Further, unlike MANY copyright holders, Disney continues to maintain, support, and distribute their works, moving them to new formats and using new technology to update them and make them fresh for generations.

      Okay, I know I am late to the party on this discussion, but if you think the above is true, you need to do some research.

      List of Disney items not available in North America:

      Song of the South
      The Light in the Forest
      The Thief and the Cobbler
      Transformers: Robots In Disguise
      The Legend Of The Chaos God (comic)
      John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together
      Disney Adventures Magazine

      And the TV shows (dear me the TV shows!) that got no release at all or only a partial release (a couple of which are one box set away from being complete on DVD, and have stayed that way for several years now):

      Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place (owned by ABC which is owned by Disney)
      The Green Hornet, Original TV show (also ABC)
      The Muppet Show, Season 4 and 5
      Darkwing Duck, Season 3
      Ducktales, Season 4
      Bonkers
      Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
      TaleSpin
      Goof Troop
      Gargoyles
      House of Mouse
      Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

      ...and this is just a short list. (Much thanks to TV tropes and their page 'KeepCirculatingtheTapes'. There's more listed on their pages, but I got tired of typing them.)

      Also, anything not available from Marvel (comics, films, TV shows, etc.), Touchstone, or ABC that you can't find.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2014 @ 6:26am

    I do not recall if Tom really is the one who trots this graphic with great regularity, but for anyone to predict it will once more extend to the right because Disney demands same needs to realize that copyright extensions over the past 30+ years have their genesis in international treaties, and convincing a wide swath of countries that the extension of term limits is a virtual necessity...easy to say, much, much, much harder to do.

     

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    CFWhitman, Jan 31st, 2014 @ 11:07am

    Stretching Copyright to its Limits

    What the people pushing for these copyright extensions don't seem to realize is that copyright law is like a balloon. It can only become so big. It's not natural to expect widely known stories from over a hundred years ago to not be used by anybody. When you try try to continue to stretch copyright to unreasonable extents, the same thing happens to it as happens to a balloon. It either begins to leak, explodes, or leaks and then explodes. Copyright has already begun to leak as people start not to pay as much attention to following it. If these companies try to extend it much further, it will start to become a joke. Make it reasonable, and people will respect it more.

     

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    V, Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 9:17pm

    When the public domain has been fully mined...

    It appears Disney's plan is...Remakes! Sequels!

    A short list (from Wikipedia):

    Winnie the Pooh (2011)
    The Lone Ranger (2013)
    Monsters University (2013)
    Planes (2013)
    Cinderella (live action version) (2015)
    The Jungle Book (live action version) (2015)
    Star Wars VII-IX (2015 & Beyond)
    Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
    Finding Dory (2016)
    Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (2016)
    Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (even though you can't buy the original show)
    Tron 3
    Flight of the Navigator
    Pete's Dragon

    Yeah, limiting the public domain isn't limiting creativity, AT ALL.

     

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


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