Disney has upheld quite a reputation for its strict copyright guidelines against using its characters, brand, titles and basically anything ‘associated with the name Disney and its affiliates’. They prove to be a strong force with lawsuits towards huge media companies as well as small online businesses. In 2013, Disney filed a lawsuit against Entertainment Theatre Group that provided audiences with a musical that showcased Disney’s most popular characters, Mary Poppins, The Lion King and Spider-Man. They were being sued for ‘copyright infringement, trademark infringement, unfair trade practices; seeking damages for willful infringement after defendants refused to stop the show after being warned’ (Gardner, 2013).
Previously, fan favourites such as Shakespearean plays and Charles Dickens novels were free for people to use or reinvent. However, 17 years ago a copyright term act was enforced to keep these out of the public domain. This act expires in a few years but Disney hopes to extend the copyright for the future.
With popular film, Frozen, Disney has become more acceptable towards copyright; particularly with YouTube. The infographic below highlights the popularity of Frozen and how Disney have reacted to the parody videos.
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Lee T, 2013, 15 Years ago, Congress kept Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. Will they do it again? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2013/10/25/15-years-ago-congress-kept-mickey-mouse-out-of-the-public-domain-will-they-do-it-again/ visited 16/9
Osterndorf C, 2014, How Frozen fandom changed Disney’s stance on copyright infringement. http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/disney-frozen-fandom-copyright-infringement/ visited 16/9
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