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Will Disney try to get a perpetual copyright?


slaytonf
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I learned recently that the copyright for Pooh and his friends had lapsed. Naturally, the first thing someone thought of doing was to make a horror movie based on the characters (eye roll). 

That led me to wonder what Disney would do as Mickey's end date came up. I think they twice went to congress before and bought extensions. If I were an exec there, I'd think, why not go for a perpetual extension?   There's nothing to lose. 

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31 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

I learned recently that the copyright for Pooh and his friends had lapsed. Naturally, the first thing someone thought of doing was to make a horror movie based on the characters (eye roll). 

That led me to wonder what Disney would do as Mickey's end date came up. I think they twice went to congress before and bought extensions. If I were an exec there, I'd think, why not go for a perpetual extension?   There's nothing to lose. 

And they would have a lot of media companies right in line behind them.

Even if Mickey's copyright expires, title by title, he is still on various trademarks, which don't expire, and offer some protections.

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Walt lost the rights to Oswald way back when. I'm convinced that's why the company has been so bulldogged with their other characters. I don't see them losing the copyright, they will do everything they can to renew it. 

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2 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

Mickey's copyright ends next year. Frankly, whether they get the extension or not is in the hands of Congress not in Disney's. And they probably would want to make it permanent.

While the issue of copyright is a huge quagmire of legalities, I find it hard to believe that the final say of a creative work's copyright lies with Congress. Otherwise, the argument could be made that even a creator wanted to renew a copyright on what is rightfully theirs, a government body can simply say "no". I'd love to see a source that says Congress has the final say in the extension. The way I've always understood it is if the creator wants the rights to lapse (or rather in most cases, their estates) then they do. Otherwise they can (and probably should)have the right to be able to do that.

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3 hours ago, lpetiti said:

Walt lost the rights to Oswald way back when. I'm convinced that's why the company has been so bulldogged with their other characters. I don't see them losing the copyright, they will do everything they can to renew it. 

Did you hear how the Disney Co. got Oswald back?

See the source image

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15 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Did you hear how the Disney Co. got Oswald back?

Yeah, didn't it go somethin' like he escaped from that hutch he had been put in years ago that was somewhere in East L.A,, hopped his way up the shoulder of the I-5 and then took the Burbank Blvd exit and right back to the Buena Vista Studios and where he was greeted with open arms?

(...hey, just a guess here jakeem, you understand...I always leave all that legal mumbo-jumbo stuff to the shysters, ya know)

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10 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Yeah, didn't it go somethin' like he escaped from that hutch he had been put years ago somewhere in East L.A,, hopped his way up the shoulder of the I-5 and then took the Burbank Blvd exit and right back to the Buena Vista Studios and where he was greeted with open arms?

(...hey, just a guess here jakeem, you understand...I always leave all that legal mumbo-jumbo to the shysters, ya know)

Not quite. 

After the 2005 NFL season, ABC color analyst John Madden left "Monday Night Football" and signed with NBC Sports.

His partner, the veteran play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, wished to join Madden at NBC (where they could do "Sunday Night Football" together), but he was still under contract to ABC (owned by Disney). 

Someone came up with the brilliant idea of trading Michaels to NBC/Universal for the rights to Oswald the Rabbit. And the rest, as they say, is history!

See the source image

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Just now, jakeem said:

Not quite. 

After the 2005 NFL season, ESPN color analyst John Madden left "Monday Night Football" and signed with NBC Sports.

His partner, the veteran play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, wished to join Madden at NBC (where they could do "Sunday Night Football" together), but he was still under contract to ABC/ESPN (owned by Disney). 

Someone came up with the brilliant idea of trading Michaels to NBC/Universal for the rights to Oswald the Rabbit. And the rest, as they say, is history!

See the source image

Oh, that's RIGHT! I now remember this whole Al Michaels connection here.

(...still though and c'mon now...I hop, ahem, I mean I HOPE you got at least a LITTLE chuckle from that "he took the Burbank Blvd exit off the I-5" thing, RIGHT?!)  ;)

LOL

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2 hours ago, lpetiti said:

While the issue of copyright is a huge quagmire of legalities, I find it hard to believe that the final say of a creative work's copyright lies with Congress. Otherwise, the argument could be made that even a creator wanted to renew a copyright on what is rightfully theirs, a government body can simply say "no". I'd love to see a source that says Congress has the final say in the extension. The way I've always understood it is if the creator wants the rights to lapse (or rather in most cases, their estates) then they do. Otherwise they can (and probably should)have the right to be able to do that.

The reason Congress has the final say is that copyright terms are enshrined in Federal law, which the Congress passes and the President signs.  The first Mickey Mouse cartoons are bumping up against the current U.S. copyright limits.  If Disney wants to extend the copyright on those early Mickey Mouse properties, they have to get Congress to change the law.

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4 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Oh, that's RIGHT! I now remember this whole Al Michaels connection here.

(...still though and c'mon now...I hop, ahem, I mean I HOPE you got at least a LITTLE chuckle from that "he took the Burbank Blvd exit off the I-5" thing, RIGHT?!)  ;)

LOL

 

10 minutes ago, jakeem said:

Not quite. 

After the 2005 NFL season, ABC color analyst John Madden left "Monday Night Football" and signed with NBC Sports.

His partner, the veteran play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, wished to join Madden at NBC (where they could do "Sunday Night Football" together), but he was still under contract to ABC (owned by Disney). 

Someone came up with the brilliant idea of trading Michaels to NBC/Universal for the rights to Oswald the Rabbit. And the rest, as they say, is history!

See the source image

And now Michaels has left NBC (owned by Comcast, which owns Universal Studios) for the big, bad monster: Amazon.

 

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Let's hope so, since the current marketing suggests Disney is using Disney Channel's cheap snarky-deconstructive cult-cable "X-treme is funny! 😱 " hipster-animator jokes about the 30's cartoons--or "Ugly Mickey", as the fans call him--as the new freshly-copyrighted face of the character marketing to rely on for the next fifty years, and...no, Disney.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTU0TkWAu_Ro9uKxfhFzLG

Just...freakin'........NO.  🤦‍♂️

 

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3 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

Everybody makes a big deal out of this, but really, the copyright expires on a title-by-title basis every year.  Only the "Steamboat Willie" version of Mickey is fair game at first and whatever cartoons were copyrighted in 1928.  You'll be able to copy Steamboat Willie, exhibit it and charge admission if you like, without needing to pay The Walt Disney Co. a single penny.  But later films released in subsequent years will still be off limits, as will later designs of Mickey Mouse.  Each year, titles will fall out of copyright.

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10 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

Everybody makes a big deal out of this, but really, the copyright expires on a title-by-title basis every year.  Only the "Steamboat Willie" version of Mickey is fair game at first and whatever cartoons were copyrighted in 1928.  You'll be able to copy Steamboat Willie, exhibit it and charge admission if you like, without needing to pay The Walt Disney Co. a single penny.  But later films released in subsequent years will still be off limits, as will later designs of Mickey Mouse.  Each year, titles will fall out of copyright.

Good to know if I ever decide to do a remake of Sullivan's Travels, isn't it.

(...wait...it was this Mickey Mouse short the prisoners watch in that flick, isn't it?...although, maybe I'm wrong here)

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6 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Good to know if I ever decide to do a remake of Sullivan's Travels, isn't it.

(...wait...it was this Mickey Mouse short the prisoners watch in that flick, isn't it?...although, maybe I'm wrong here)

IMDb says it's "Playful Pluto" from 1934.

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One side effect as we come upon the sound era's films rights/copyright expiration windows is that broadcasters and streamers will be able to play these older films as many times as they wish without paying rights fees.

So, you might start seeing more properties show up on TCM over the next few years.  For example, Gone With The Wind's copyright expires in about 12 years - 2034.

Those wishing for more films outside the traditional "Turner library", as it's been called, might soon get their wish granted.

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1 minute ago, txfilmfan said:

IMDb says it's "Playful Pluto" from 1934.

Thanks.

(...guess I'll have to put that remake on the back burner for few more years then, huh)  ;) 

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2 hours ago, jakeem said:

Did you hear how the Disney Co. got Oswald back?

See the source image

Oh absolutely. But I always use Oswald as an example to my animation history students about creators protecting copyright and making sure they own the rights to work…or at least if not they need to make sure they know they’re signing the rights away.

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2 hours ago, txfilmfan said:

So, you might start seeing more properties show up on TCM over the next few years.  For example, Gone With The Wind's copyright expires in about 12 years - 2034.

Just what we need, more showings of Gone/Wind. 

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6 hours ago, lpetiti said:

... I find it hard to believe that the final say of a creative work's copyright lies with Congress. ... I'd love to see a source that says Congress has the final say in the extension. 

That would be the U.S. Constitution, article I, section 8, clause 8:

"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." 

But it's not as arbitrary as you fear. Congressmen don't review renewal applications, the copyright office does, and they don't take it case-by-case based on whim. A work is either eligible for renewal or it's not.

Federal law offers no such thing as "perpetual copyright" so I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Disney would have to get Congress to revise copyright statutes in general, which they've done only three times since the first statute was written in 1790. 

Soon, Mickey will belong to the world. 

Edit: Nope, I'm wrong. Mickey is safe under current law till 2048. There is a bill pending in Congress now that would go back to the old law, which would end Disney's ownership.

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8 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

Disney would have to get Congress to revise copyright statutes in general, which they've done only three times since the first statute was written in 1790

That's what I said in my op.  Only I thought it was twice. 

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1 hour ago, slaytonf said:

That's what I said in my op.  Only I thought it was twice. 

I meant Congress has revised the statutes, not Disney.

Back in Walt's time, renewals were available but they had to be applied for. The most recent revision was in 1998. It gets complicated fast but Mickey is too old for further extensions. I'm sure of that. 

Edit: There are bills in Congress that would reinstate the 1909 law of a 28 year original copyright, and allow a single 28 year extension.

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