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:
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.
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