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More on Public Domain: Disney and Warner Fight Over Wizard of Oz
February 22, 2012

I don’t want to rewrite this article about the fight over Wizard of Oz trademarks, so you really should visit the link, but here’s a short version:

Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The book The Wizard of Oz is in public domain, since it was published in 1899. The 1939 movie is not; it’s owned by Warner Bros., along with elements unique to the film, such as the ruby slippers. (And when I was searching Amazon for those, all the various special editions and even more special edition re-release DVDs came up long before the books, for what that’s worth.)

Disney is making a movie called Oz: The Great and Powerful, due out next year, that focuses on how the Wizard (James Franco) became the Wizard, how he got to Oz and whom he met before Dorothy and her friends. The two copyright behemoths are now quietly battling over related trademarks, trying to file them out from under each other.

Warner has also been attacking other companies’ Oz-related trademark filings. Just another example of how trademarks can be used as weapons regardless of whether copyrighted material has become part of the public cultural fabric. It is kind of funny to see the two biggest defenders of continually extending copyright (to protect Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Superman, natch) taking each other on, though.

7 Responses  
Bytowner writes:  

Trademarks, just like patents…used as clubs. Or knives, it seems.

An ugly analogy, but it seems to work too well to ignore.

 
Ralf Haring writes:  

I guess Marvel’s Oz comics are distinct from the WB film version?

 
Eric Rupe writes:  

“I guess Marvel’s Oz comics are distinct from the WB film version?”

Trademark isn’t all-encompassing like copyright. When you file a trademark application you have to specify what types of products you are going to use the trademark for. So, WB has the trademark for use on movies and whatnot while Marvel/Disney has the trademark for use on comics and such.

 
Mitchell Craig writes:  

Yes, the Marvel Oz comics are very different from the movie….and all the better for it.

Here endeth the lesson.

 
Johanna writes:  

I think Marvel’s Oz comics are more comparable to their Jane Austen comics, an attempt to get comic versions of classic lit onto shelves.

 
Barney writes:  

I can’t say I’m very enthused about the Disney movie; there are more than enough unfilmed (or filmed long ago) L Frank Baum Oz books that could be made into great fantasy films.

 
JulieTorrentino from Youtube writes:  

Let them fight over it!

They are both the two greediest, out of control companies out there! I for one, will not be crying in my sleep if a giant meteorite destroyed their corporations! Good riddance to bad rubbish!

 
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