Friday, August 22, 2008

Slipping Them a Mickey

Virtualpolitik pal Joseph Menn has a good piece about copyright in this week's Los Angeles Times. "Disney's rights to young Mickey Mouse may be wrong" argues that the early incarnations of this highly recognizable brand in films like "Steamboat Willie" have been around long enough to have entered the public domain. It's Menn's swan song from the city's "gray whale," which has become more like a sinking ship of late, as he swims off into the sunset for a book-writing leave.

Update: Menn pointed out my sloppy paraphrase that equated his argument with Lawrence Lessig's and the fact that I focused exclusively on the clock running out on the rights. To correct the record, Menn is actually making a more subtle legal argument in his piece. He notes that Disney "apparently blew the extremely strict requirements for copyright notice that were in place at the time -- so that in theory, they've never had the rights to the original Mickey at all."

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