ComicMix to Publish Lost Seuss Stories
This is a bit devious. Last year, ComicMix ended up settling a lawsuit brought by the Dr. Seuess estate. That decision prohibited them from publishing Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!, a Kickstarted Seuss/Star Trek mashup. A The most recent ruling had said that such combinations are not parodic or transformative.
Apparently, as part of that lawsuit, research was done on the Seuss copyrights. Now ComicMix is crowdfunding The Zaks and Other Lost Stories, a collection of six stories now in the public domain. Which means, that although they’re running this disclaimer:
This project is not associated, nor approved, nor even particularly liked by Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P., a California limited partnership, which owns some of the copyrights of the works of Theodor S. Geisel, the author and illustrator who created many works under the pseudonym “Dr. Seuss”.
The estate can’t stop them. The book, containing stories not seen in over 50 years, is due out in July, given that the $5000 goal has been met.
The book will also include an early version of “The Sneetches” and an afterword summing up the legal history. The Kickstarter page has a summary of the situation, in Seussian-style rhyme. Gotta love revenge poetry. This is an excerpt:
“We found Dr. Seuss stories, once thought to be lost,
that we’re bringing to you at a reasonable cost.
Some tales are familiar, though not quite this way,
but all fine examples of Seuss’s wordplay!
We spruced them all up, and now are good times
to rediscover his artwork and rhymes.
We filled up a book to put on your shelf
So that you can at last read them for yourself!”
The one thing the Dr. Seuss estate can do is potentially sue for trademark infringement, if ComixMix emblazons the book with the Dr. Seuss name. I assume the Dr. Seuss name is trademarked, right? Otherwise they have carte blanche to publish this stuff if it did fall in the public domain.
I’m sure they’ve gotten legal advice on that as well. I believe it is legal to use trademarks if they’re part of a factual description. Like if I was writing a book about a TV show, I can call it (SOMETHING): An Unauthorized Guide to (TV SHOW). And that seems similar to what they’ve done here.