On Jan 1, awesome stuff will enter the public domain: HG Wells, Gertrude Stein, Buster Keaton, Walt Disney, Lenny Bruce (but not in the USA)

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/07/on-jan-1-awesome-stuff-will-e.html

I’m a little baffled about how this works out in practice. If I, an American, mash up Steamboat Willie I can be sued. But if I go to Canada and mash up Steamboat Willie, it’s fair game? Then do I become vulnerable if I repatriate my work? Does this mean Disney can sue me simply for crossing the border with my own, legal, artistic work?

Also, I assume it works the same way for a Canadian citizen?


If you draw Mickey Mouse in your sketchbook, no one is going to bother you.

Distribution is where they’re going to nail you for copyright violations. So, if you only distribute it in Canada, you’re fine. If you distribute it (especially commercially) in the States, then the lawyers will start sharpening their claws.


One of Disney’s nefariously clever workarounds for hanging on to Steamboat Willie is that Mickey Mouse is also a trademark of the Walt Disney Corporation, and unlike copyrighted material trademarks never expire.

It’s no accident that Walt Disney Animation Studios now uses this clip as their logo:


That actually doesn’t sound unreasonable to me. Of course he’s a trademark. Would anybody ever watch Steamboat Willie if the star was Sticky Stoat?


[quote=“Brainspore, post:4, topic:90774”]It’s no accident that Walt Disney Animation Studios now uses this clip as their logo[/quote]Golly, I never thought of that. Fiendish, that is.

I would have thought Marvel might have been up to the same shenanigans with the old flipping-comic-book-pages production logo, but it seems they recently stopped using that.


(sigh) Is it just me? Have politicians become much greedier assholes willing to sell us down the river to the lobbyists in the last 30 years or am I just getting old?


Not old enough. I’d say its closer to the last 40 years.


In previous decades I believe there was a similar rationale for Steamboat Willie being shown on a continuous loop in the theater on Main Street USA which is now a high-priced memorabilia shop - something about trademarks not expiring on a work still currently in exhibition.

Of course you have to keep using them to keep trademarks active. So that’s why Marvel and DC will periodically include some little remembered golden age super hero or super villain in a minor role or a crowd scene to keep them under trademark protection.


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