It looks as though the Disney Corporation is about to run into a spot of bother, as one of their most iconic characters – Winnie the Pooh – might say. You see, the company’s copyright protection for Winnie the Pooh will expire this year. However, its no quite as bad as it sounds for Disney…
Disney Looses An Important Copyright
For those who don’t know, author A. A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh in 1924, meaning that the work is no longer protected by copyright. As of this year, the text can be freely published by anyone or any company, while the characters and settings of the books can also be adapted by anyone or studio. However, as stated, things are not that bad for the company.
First, while anyone in the world can use the characters, they cannot simply copy the Disney versions. Those are trademarked by the company. So, if you were planning on making paintings of a bear in a red shirt, they’ll need to think again and create their own versions (as the original did not have the iconic red shirt).
Likewise, Disney does not lose the right to adapt the character themselves, meaning they can continue their very successful line of adaptations. They are also the only ones who can use Tigger. That’s right! Tigger was not introduced until 1928, meaning that Disney still has a few years to use the character to the company’s content.
Still, some experts say Disney will look into ways to extend their exclusive copyright. Will it work? Read on to find out…
What Will Happen To Winnie The Pooh?
Its not hard to see why Disney doesn’t want others creeping in on its Winnie the Pooh success. After all, the character has remained one of the studio’s most successful franchises since it started back in 1966! Most recently, the company opened a Winnie the Pooh stage musical on Broadway last October. No questions asked, the franchise has brought in billions upon billions of dollars for the company.
Meanwhile, Winnie the Pooh presents Disney with just one copyright concern. This year, author Felix Salten’s Bambi, A Life in the Woods will also enter the public domain. Of course, the company turned the children’s book into a movie in 1942, become a classic for the company. Like Winnie the Pooh, Disney will retain its version of the character, but others can create their own versions of Bambi for alternative consumption.
According to legal experts, Disney could try and extend the copyright again, but its not clear that they should. It would not only take lots of time and cost lots of money, but is also unlikely to work.