Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby MRandall25 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:00 pm

Why is it that every thread has been turning into the PDT
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Shyster on Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:28 pm

MRandall25 wrote:Why is it that every thread has been turning into the PDT

1. Because the PDT is not available.
2. Because the scope of activities, behaviors, topics, etc. over which some level of government claims control (whether federal, state, or local) has become so breathtakingly large that few if any areas are left that are not controlled in some fashion by “politics.” When the government controls darn near everything, then darn near everything is political.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby KennyTheKangaroo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:33 pm

at least the government wont stop us from eating garbage bananas
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Hockeynut! on Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:56 pm

The gov would love to regulate garbage bananas!
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby columbia on Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:58 pm

Hockeynut! wrote:The gov would love to regulate garbage bananas!


steven tyler wrote:Keep the government out of my front pocket.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby relantel on Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:32 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:This all kind of hit me when I was watching Universals 1925 Phantom of the Opera on TCM, and I realized the print had nothing to do with Universal - it didn't even include their name in the opening credits. Someone else has been allowed to profit off something Universal Studios paid a small fortune for in 1925. I assume TCM was showing this "other" print because either it was cheaper than Universal's or Universal sees to profit motive in preserving a public domain work.


I didn't see the beginning but I watched a bulk of this the other night after we got home from Altoona.

Pitt87 wrote:Its not a greater good question as is with other copyright or patent... its a useful life definition. Mickey Mouse is the standard for useful life, thus the standard should help define the law, not arbitrarily become subject to the law it helped to define. There may come a time when MM becomes less relevant, and at that time he will no longer be the standard. Can you imagine the damage to TWDC if they lost the copyright to public domain?


The MM discussion seems to be describing a trade-mark. Which is a completely different topic/process/law. Companies are hounds to protect their trademark even when the cost of infringement is small, they'll spend to protect it to avoid devaluing of their mark. Failure to defend it could lead to loss of the mark - such as when the trade-marked name becomes so common as to lose their trade-mark - Zerox had this problem - most people call a copier a zerox machine whether Zerox made it or not.

Think of it as the broader idea/intellectual property can be patented/trademarked, while the individual work is copyrighted. If an author dies, the spouse or other successor (either testate or via intestate succession) has the right to file on behalf of the estate. My uncle filed one last year on a piece written by his late piano teacher, on behalf of his widow. I myself have copyrighted several musical and poetic works of my own - but I have no IP to trademark.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby canaan on Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:18 pm

Are you a member of the soggy bottom boys?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Pitt87 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:38 pm

relantel wrote:
pittsoccer33 wrote:This all kind of hit me when I was watching Universals 1925 Phantom of the Opera on TCM, and I realized the print had nothing to do with Universal - it didn't even include their name in the opening credits. Someone else has been allowed to profit off something Universal Studios paid a small fortune for in 1925. I assume TCM was showing this "other" print because either it was cheaper than Universal's or Universal sees to profit motive in preserving a public domain work.


I didn't see the beginning but I watched a bulk of this the other night after we got home from Altoona.

Pitt87 wrote:Its not a greater good question as is with other copyright or patent... its a useful life definition. Mickey Mouse is the standard for useful life, thus the standard should help define the law, not arbitrarily become subject to the law it helped to define. There may come a time when MM becomes less relevant, and at that time he will no longer be the standard. Can you imagine the damage to TWDC if they lost the copyright to public domain?


The MM discussion seems to be describing a trade-mark. Which is a completely different topic/process/law. Companies are hounds to protect their trademark even when the cost of infringement is small, they'll spend to protect it to avoid devaluing of their mark. Failure to defend it could lead to loss of the mark - such as when the trade-marked name becomes so common as to lose their trade-mark - Zerox had this problem - most people call a copier a zerox machine whether Zerox made it or not.

Think of it as the broader idea/intellectual property can be patented/trademarked, while the individual work is copyrighted. If an author dies, the spouse or other successor (either testate or via intestate succession) has the right to file on behalf of the estate. My uncle filed one last year on a piece written by his late piano teacher, on behalf of his widow. I myself have copyrighted several musical and poetic works of my own - but I have no IP to trademark.


Different things. Google CTEA, or Sonny Bono Act. It is literally about the right of corporate authorship, not about the trademark; they are seeking to prevent other entities from developing characters similar to theirs in new works.

IP and utility are different than useful life. Works live on well after authors.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby tifosi77 on Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:33 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:(though I realize the irony in that Snow White was made from a public domain story)

That's true of most of their early 'fairy tale' features.

Factorial wrote:Copyrights should actually go to the person/people who create the product (e.g. the cartoonist, etc that had a part in the creation/design of Mickey).

According to the de facto starting position of the law, it does.... which is why employment agreements with IP companies always contain a proviso that you voluntarily assign to your employer all right, title and interest in and to any IP you create while doing work for the company. (And why you never want to talk about private business matters over your employer's computer network)

relantel wrote:Failure to defend it could lead to loss of the mark - such as when the trade-marked name becomes so common as to lose their trade-mark - Zerox had this problem - most people call a copier a zerox machine whether Zerox made it or not.

As is the case with 'kleenex', 'band aid', 'aspirin', 'thermos', etc.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby columbia on Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:36 pm

I believe this to be an example of absurd patents (and thought of this thread while I was at the barber earlier today)...

Vacuum hair trimmer
https://www.google.com/patents/US4219931

Yeah, some real freakin' innovation, there.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby newarenanow on Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:22 pm

Isn't Happy Birthday still owned by someone?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby nocera on Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:35 pm

The best part about Night of the Living Dead being in public domain: Lots of legal DVD options, legally online everywhere. Worst part: Romero never made a dime off of it.

I don't think I'll feel too bad if Disney stops making money on one Mickey short. They'll be fine.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby pittsoccer33 on Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:34 am

nocera wrote:The best part about Night of the Living Dead being in public domain: Lots of legal DVD options, legally online everywhere. Worst part: Romero never made a dime off of it.

I don't think I'll feel too bad if Disney stops making money on one Mickey short. They'll be fine.


It's a Wonderful Life was accidently left in the public domain for decades. Given how entrenched its become in popular culture you might be surprised to know it was a bit of a flop at the box office when released. It became so well known because tv stations could play it for free.

It will start with one Mickey cartoon. Then a few months later another, then some more, then within a few years it will be their feature films which ARE the company's primary product.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Factorial on Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:51 am

The patent term in the US and most of the world is 20 years. Why is/should this be any different?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby tifosi77 on Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:38 pm

First, there is no patent issue here. Patents are for inventions, and can be physical products, machines or processes, or improvements thereto.

Second, there is a cross-threading of concepts here that give the copyright holder a different interest in maintaining that copyright that might not exist in other media. For example, 'Mickey Mouse' is a current trademark and is effectively the spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company. (That's how they keep the mark active on all their characters) They have a vested interest maintaining the integrity of anything associated with it, meaning things like Steamboat Willie.

Third, one of the reasons copyrights are time-limited is because the commercial potential of a copyright has a very limited shelf life. A few years, maybe; the copyrights for something like 95% of books are never renewed. Therefore, allowing another entity to attempt to exploit that work for their own profit is not likely to result in any negative impact to the originator of the work. However, there are rare exceptions where commercial viability far outlasts the life of the original author. The Lord of the Rings comes to mind, Harry Potter will be one in years to come. Syndicated TV shows. Certainly these early Disney creations fit that bill as well. As long as the work is commercially viable, I have no problem reserving the exclusive right of exploitation of that work to the original creator or their designated licensees.

Finally, putting the issue of why Steamboat Willie (or copyright to film properties in general) should be different than copyright in other works, let us consider just what would be involved should an entity seek to exploit Steamboat Willie. (Remember, they can't do anything with 'Mickey Mouse', because that's a trademark that's still in effect) Disney has quite a robust history of litigation in this matter, once going so far as to threatening a lawsuit against a law school student who published a paper supporting the case that the copyright to Steamboat Willie had actually lapsed decades earlier owing to errors on the original copyright paperwork. (You don't have to file with the government to enjoy copyright protection, the moment your work is 'fixed in a tangible medium of expression' it is copyrighted. But filing with the USPTO makes supporting your claim to the copyright in court much easier. So the problem with the Steamboat Willie copyright really only would have come into play when the first copyright extension was filed.) If Congress remains silent and allows all those old copyrights to expire, I'd like to see someone attempt to exploit Steamboat Willie. There is certainly case law that would support their efforts, but the legal expenses of pursuing the opportunity will likely far exceed any potential benefit.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby columbia on Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:43 pm

tifosi77 wrote:First, there is no patent issue here.


Obviously not in this particular case, but surely you are aware of the patent law suits in the software industry.

The fact that the government allows 1.) those ridiculous patents to be filed in the first place and 2.) successful lawsuits to happen based on them is - to me - an indication that we are not handling the broader intellectual property sphere in the most logical way.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Shyster on Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:30 pm

tifosi77 wrote:First, there is no patent issue here. Patents are for inventions, and can be physical products, machines or processes, or improvements thereto.

I think the Factorial is questioning the disparate treatment. If I invent a better mousetrap, I (or my heirs) have the exclusive right to make and sell that mousetrap for the next 20 years (or license the design to others). But if I write a song about a mousetrap, the exclusivity period lasts for my lifetime plus the next 70 years, or 95 years after publication date, depending on the circumstances. Why are books, songs, photographs, and other creative original works due so much more protection than tangible inventions?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby tifosi77 on Fri Nov 01, 2013 7:00 pm

columbia wrote:Obviously not in this particular case, but surely you are aware of the patent law suits in the software industry.

I certainly am; my company has been a co-defendant in many such suits in the 4 1/2 years I've been here. :wink:

Shyster wrote:Why are books, songs, photographs, and other creative original works due so much more protection than tangible inventions?

I would say precisely because the property those laws protect are in a very legitimate way somewhat intangible. They are, even in the parlance of the law, expressions. (Of course, they are only protected expressions once fixed in a 'tangible medium') In other words, what's really being protected by the spectrum of IP law are thoughts..... more directly, the originator's ability to trade off those thoughts and make money with them.

I've also read arguments that patent and copyright periods are so different because the patent is much more likely to serve a broader public good, while copyright is a much more individualized protection.

But I'm curious; are you arguing that it would be appropriate to extend the length of a patent to match other IP rights? Or that copyright is far too generous? Should there even be IP protection?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Pitt87 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:57 pm

tifosi77 wrote:
columbia wrote:Obviously not in this particular case, but surely you are aware of the patent law suits in the software industry.

I certainly am; my company has been a co-defendant in many such suits in the 4 1/2 years I've been here. :wink:


I guess you :wink: to indicate that you are somehow on the right side of the matter. While there is a level of frivolity in some of the more well-known cases, my company tends to be plaintiffs in these cases with many of them bearing from direct competitive pursuit. The reason there is a patent process that includes a term is to avoid perpetuity, and considering IP to be a civil matter where the only type of penalty is monetary, the claims are reasonably black and white.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby GSdrums87 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:03 pm

Pitt87 wrote:
tifosi77 wrote:
columbia wrote:Obviously not in this particular case, but surely you are aware of the patent law suits in the software industry.

I certainly am; my company has been a co-defendant in many such suits in the 4 1/2 years I've been here. :wink:


I guess you :wink: to indicate that you are somehow on the right side of the matter. While there is a level of frivolity in some of the more well-known cases, my company tends to be plaintiffs in these cases with many of them bearing from direct competitive pursuit. The reason there is a patent process that includes a term is to avoid perpetuity, and considering IP to be a civil matter where the only type of penalty is monetary, the claims are reasonably black and white.

ISWYDT
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby tifosi77 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Pitt87 wrote:
tifosi77 wrote:
columbia wrote:Obviously not in this particular case, but surely you are aware of the patent law suits in the software industry.

I certainly am; my company has been a co-defendant in many such suits in the 4 1/2 years I've been here. :wink:


I guess you :wink: to indicate that you are somehow on the right side of the matter. While there is a level of frivolity in some of the more well-known cases, my company tends to be plaintiffs in these cases with many of them bearing from direct competitive pursuit. The reason there is a patent process that includes a term is to avoid perpetuity, and considering IP to be a civil matter where the only type of penalty is monetary, the claims are reasonably black and white.

The smiley was nothing more than an acknowledgement that I have first-hand experience with the issue of patent lawsuits in the software industry.

However, my view of patent lawsuits is somewhat jaded. In my time here, we've not had a single claim filed against us that was even remotely legit. They're shakedowns, nothing more. Patent trolls, in most cases. I don't mean that to disparage the idea of protecting IP rights; if anything I've been quite clear on my support of IP rights.

We have been involved in litigation where we truly have been in the wrong; one such case is coming to a close in the next few weeks and it will cost us a hefty seven-figure sum, largely because of an administrative eff up by one of my best friends here. (Yikes) But in terms of the patent claims, they've all been utterly bogus. There may come a day when we get done for infringing a patent, but it is not this day.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby columbia on Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:39 pm

Image


"Yep, that's a rectangle all right. Innovation at its finest."


http://www.pcworld.com/article/2039282/ ... ected.html
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby relantel on Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:04 pm

and to do that in 2012 after said shape and design was already common?
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby Shyster on Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:41 pm

tifosi77 wrote:But I'm curious; are you arguing that it would be appropriate to extend the length of a patent to match other IP rights? Or that copyright is far too generous? Should there even be IP protection?

Personally, I deem tangible inventions much more worth on protection (and much more worthy of praise in general) than purely intellectual creations. Whether intellectual-property protections are a viable thing has long been of divided debate in the libertarian community, and I must admit that I'm still not completely decided on the question. But in regard to your question, I am leaning toward the "no" side of the fence.

Coincidentally, I was just reading a blurb in Reason magazine about copyright making books disappear. Publishers like to focus on the new and shiny and don't generally spend much money releasing titles from their back catalogs, especially ones that were only modestly commercially successful to begin with. But at the same time those books won't be in the public domain for decades. The end result is books that unless you can find a used copy (which wouldn't make any money for the author), you can't find those books anywhere.
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Re: Copyright law: can Disney protect Mickey Mouse again?

Postby tifosi77 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:18 pm

Funny...... at the bottom of the reason.com homepage is this:

©2012 Reason Foundation

:wink:
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