Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Land-grab in the Magic Kingdom

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  • Lucy Stewart,

    I think the word "creepy" is definitely the right one to describe Disney's actions. However, shouldn't the sheer longevity and breadth of works surrounding these stories prevent Disney from copyrighting them? I don't know a lot - okay, anything - about copyright law, but I'd think that for most of these stories, the sheer weight of adaptations and references and re-interpretations floating around should be enough to prove that Disney does not have the first or only claim to them - most of these other adaptations well pre-dating Disney's. How on earth does that translate to Disney claiming copyright? They can possibly prove that they have the most popular version of some of these stories, but, numbers-wise, I believe that the Catholics have the most popular version of the Bible. "Popular" does not mean "only".

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    I wouldn't have thought they had a whelk's chance in a supernova. Look at what happened when Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie attempted to bring classic girl characters sexuality to the fore in The Lost Girls.

    And whatever you think them, Shrek 2 on the box Sunday had a Pinocchio character. And they're going to tell Italy they're National Treasure can't portry an Italian folktale without being beholden to The Mouse?

    It's a foray into occupy territory trying to see how far they can liberate. And we know how well hearts and minds are won with that.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 522 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's a foray into occupy territory trying to see how far they can liberate. And we know how well hearts and minds are won with that.

    I think you're right - although "liberate" isn't the word I would choose ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Benjamin Franzmayr,

    Well I think it's a great idea. As soon as they get their trademarks I'll do a few short films about, say, coca cola, apple ipods, MacDonalds etc and then claim my rightful trademark over these brands.

    Benjamin

    Palmerston North, New Zea… • Since Nov 2006 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • kerry w,

    I wanted to use the word "Ariel" as a trademark for a possible creative business idea, to identify anything I made and sold. Alas, Disney has done just what RB has described and their appplication to use that name/word covers absolutely everything including art. I don't even know where "Ariel" fits into their oeuvre?? I can't recall a character of that name, as far as I recall Ariel was the Greek messenger of the Gods. Surely Disney can't own a Greek legend??

    Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Rogan Polkinghorne,

    Ariel was the name of The Little Mermaid...apparently. So I've been told.

    A-town • Since Nov 2006 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    Puleeze!

    Ariel was the elemental sprite in `The Tempest'

    So Disney is taking over poor old Shakespeare...

    Wait until the entire MacBeth Clan finds their name owned by Disney!

    Since Jan 2007 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    I think Hermes was the greek messenger god. The original Hans Christian Anderson story, The Little Mermaid, doesn't have the name Ariel, so it may well appear first in the Disney movie, in which case it's theirs.

    I imagine there's a large grey area where what we think of as the traditional story is actually the relatively recent invention of Walt Disney and co. They have a real hold over the popular imagination, and we might wonder, for instance, at what point the seven dwarves acquired their names. They didn't have them in the Brothers Grimm version. Of course, I don't know for sure, as my googling skills are not what they might be, but if Disney baptised those dwarves, then it really says a lot about the hold that corporate-US culture has over our imaginations.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    double post: oh yeah, The Tempest. D'oh.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • JP Hansen,

    Have you guys seen any of those really shoddy Looney Tunes DVDs out there, all using really old cartoons which I assume have become public domain? My kids have been given a few in the last couple of years. Some of them look like the transfer process was simply videotaping a projected movie. Shoddy images, worse sound.

    I'd be perfectly happy to never see a disney cartoon being resold by another company, but I do agree the scope of the copyright legislation by Disney is ridiculous.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariel

    * Ariel, a former alias of the Marvel Comics character Kitty Pryde
    * Ariel, the original name of the Transformers character Elita One
    * Ariel (comics), a fictional character in the Marvel Comics Universe
    * Ariel (Legacy of Kain), a character in the Legacy of Kain video game series
    * Ariel (Pope), a character in Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock
    * Ariel (Robotech), a character in the science fiction series Robotech
    * Ariel (Shakespeare), a character in William Shakespeare's play The Tempest
    * Princess Ariel, the main character in Disney's 1989 film The Little Mermaid
    * Princess Ariel (Thundarr the Barbarian), a main character in the Thundarr the Barbarian animated series
    * Ariel, the fictional daughter of the Patricia Arquette character on the NBC drama Medium

    I assume you'd have trouble trademarking a proper name anyway, but... surely...

    Incidentally, does anyone have anything on a story I heard about some US music rights case that found you could have your copyright taken away from you if you weren't using it to make money?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Sandra Simpson,

    And which gang of characters earns most for Disney each year? No, not Mickey and Co, not Snow White ... Winnie-the-Pooh & friends. The quintessential English characters have not only been Disneyfied in their looks (poor old EH Shepherd), but are now controlled by Disney completely - movies, toys, every piece of merchandise imaginable, stories not penned by AA Milne. The world according to Walt must be protected at all costs, there's just too much money involved. So the only strange thing is that it hasn't happened sooner.

    Tauranga • Since Jan 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Leopold,

    Oy vey,
    Ariel (meaning originally 'Lion of God') is one of the names for the Tribe of Judah in the Tanakh -

    Disney IS getting ambitious in its copyright wars...

    Since Jan 2007 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    Thanks for the article, Russell.

    Without being an IP lawyer, I have trouble believing that Disney would get this. What concerns me most is that they probably asked for a lot with the expectation of getting a moderate amount, and a moderate amount could still be ridiculous.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Judd,

    You had two out of the three surefire Boing Boing flags (Disney: check. Corporate takeover of culture: check. All you needed to work in there was unicorns...). And it worked - you got boing boinged.
    Is that the first mention of Public Address on the worlds most read blog?
    Hope your server is ready...

    Perth • Since Nov 2006 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Steamboat Willie wasn't the first Mickey Mouse cartoon.

    The first Mickey short was six month's earlier - Plane Crazy.

    Steamboat Willie was the first major cartoon with synchronised sound, but the second of Mickey's shorts (and the third of Mickey's shorts to be produced).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2968 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    You had two out of the three surefire Boing Boing flags (Disney: check. Corporate takeover of culture: check. All you needed to work in there was unicorns...). And it worked - you got boing boinged.
    Is that the first mention of Public Address on the worlds most read blog?
    Hope your server is ready...

    Actually PA got BoingBoinged way back in 2005, after Russell linked to the Starlords movie. And the server did indeed crash, from memory. Probably a bit more robust two years later!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Hamboy,

    I think you're right - although "liberate" isn't the word I would choose ...

    Perhaps he was using Bushes definition of the word.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Actually PA got BoingBoinged way back in 2005, after Russell linked to the Starlords movie.

    RB didn't link to Starlords from memory: Boing Boing linked directly to it, the two sites (Starlords and PA) just happened to be hosted on the same server, and it was bandwidth issues that clogged things up (our hosting provider thought we were the victim of a denial of service attack and did the equivalent of slamming the door shut). But... probably due to the fact they reproduced a decent portion of RB's post, PA received fewer than 500 visits directly from Boing Boing yesterday it seems.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But... probably due to the fact they reproduced a decent portion of RB's post, PA received fewer than 500 visits directly from Boing Boing yesterday it seems.

    Yep, with maybe several hundred more from the likes of Netviibes (which has a feed froom BoingBoing as a default). So Star Wars mash-ups still win ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Seen while looking you up on BoingBoing...

    It appears Vista's DRM has been well and truly cracked. Can we have our functionality back now?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Actually that last bit was rhetorical. Not really a native PC person and wouldn't get vista by choice. Would prefer it if hardware prices didn't go up, tho.

    Do we think Ubuntu will get a boost out of this?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1091 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Paul Wood,

    Returning to an earlier conversation, here is another neglected Ariel. You'd have thought the Brits could have sued.

    Christchurch • Since Jan 2007 • 175 posts Report Reply

  • samuel walker,

    http://www.tcj.com/journalista/

    the always brilliant Dirk Deppy:

    "Is Disney trying to trademark public-domain characters in New Zealand? According to Russell Brown, the company petitioned the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand for marks to such characters as Snow White and Peter Pan, despite not having created them. Thankfully, IPONZ seems to be looking rather dubiously toward the request. As Brown notes, “One would hope that Disney is not allowed to annex stories that are out of copyright (in some cases, that’s precisely why Disney was able to make movies of them) merely because it adapted them. That would be creepy.” (Above: Detail from the notorious, Wally Wood-drawn Disneyland Memorial Orgy, ©1967 Paul Krassner; link via Cory Doctorow.)"

    and uses the famous wally wood snow white orgy scene as graphic.

    disney baiting????

    Since Nov 2006 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    The whole IP lobby is getting out of hand - personally I think it's a sign of the death throes... but I might be dreaming.

    When the phonograph started becoming popular, the sheet music industry got all hysterical. What we're seeing now is very similar.

    I think there's something deeply Conservative about out-of-control IP, to the extent it threatens the evolution of our society (more rambling here http://serendipitousphilosophy.blogspot.com )

    And it does link to what Vista has done. The hardware layer isn't in place yet, so I think it's too early to think that the DRM has been cracked...

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

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