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Thread: If Mickey Mouse is still copyrighted...

  1. #1
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    If Mickey Mouse is still copyrighted...

    why does Disney Corp not go after the Suicide Mouse videos on Youtube?

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    Do you think Suicide Mouse infringes on Disney's copyright? There are quite a few exceptions in the law.

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    It is probably permitted under Fair Use (parody/satire).

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    Do they have to? IIRC there's something in trademark law that you have to enforce it or lose the right to. A) Am I right and B) does it apply to copyright?
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    Quote Originally Posted by slang View Post
    Do they have to? IIRC there's something in trademark law that you have to enforce it or lose the right to. A) Am I right and B) does it apply to copyright?
    A yes in trade marks, b copyright is a different case, it is automatic without registration but to infringe it must be a very close copy. It lasts fifty years but I'm not sure about USA. I think you will find there must also be a literal paper original with proven date. I was involved in a case where it hinged on showing the copier must on the balance of probabilities actually have seen the paper copy.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    -I assume also that it would be permitted under fair use.
    -I don't think that Disney is really losing anything from it.
    -Since they clearly do try to protect the rights to Mickey Mouse in many cases, I don't think that ignoring something like that would have any risk.
    As above, so below

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    Usually Disney is very aggressive in protecting its intellectual property (brands, content, marks, characters, etc.) so it's not clear why they haven't chased Google and the creator of the video and forced the fair use issue. It would be interesting to see if a court views the film as satire or parody and is thus a protected work.

    I'd certainly be surprised if Disney decided to not seek relief because "any publicity is good publicity." But I would not be surprised if pursuit is just not on Disney's radar because it's too trivial. Or it might be on a back burner for now. Or there is something about the film that Disney would rather not discuss in court.

    As an aside, here's an interesting article about how copyright expiration dates in the US have been extended over time since the laws first came about - and how some of that change is driven by a little black and white mouse with red pants.

    Disney now has until 2023 to figure out how to extend that date once again. In 5 years or so, we can probably expect to see stories about proposed changes to copyright duration, once again. It is unlikely that a company as strong as Disney will sit by and allow Steamboat Willie to enter the Public Domain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    A yes in trade marks, b copyright is a different case, it is automatic without registration but to infringe it must be a very close copy. It lasts fifty years but I'm not sure about USA. I think you will find there must also be a literal paper original with proven date. I was involved in a case where it hinged on showing the copier must on the balance of probabilities actually have seen the paper copy.
    I believe the principle of laches (if you don't take action, you lose the right to) applies to copyright as well as trademarks and patents. Although, in the case of copyright, the "clock" is restarted from each violation, so they would have X years from each time the video clip is played I assume.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I believe the principle of laches (if you don't take action, you lose the right to) applies to copyright as well as trademarks and patents. Although, in the case of copyright, the "clock" is restarted from each violation, so they would have X years from each time the video clip is played I assume.
    In a similar case I was involved in, about a design being copied, but copyright (not registration) was invoked, the court test is that of the "reasonable man" as opposed to a patent say where an expert opinion would be used. So the lower burden of proof is if the judge or jury think a "reasonable man" would assume it very likely the defendant had seen the original (drawing) and used it. This might seem unsatisfactory and I feel many of these cases favour the larger companies. The one I cite was about a phone design and was successful using UK law in Hong Kong court.

    It might be that evidence of previous unactioned copies would help if for example the defendant proves he copied another copy that was legally obtained. The original paperwork is important even if it is in the form of published books. I would think the internet has confused the situation greatly.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    the battles between large companies are like poker games because the loser may have to pay all the costs as well as any penalty. This can and does intimidate the smaller company because it is quite difficult to predict how the case will go. This is especially true in copyright but also affects trade mark and patent cases because there is a huge pile of evidence that can be brought to court even when you might think it is clear cut. The costs then rise and the result can ruin one of the parties. I have seen big companies shut down small competition with infringement suits that seemed to be completely unfair.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    i checked, both UK and USA normally have copyright 70 years after the author's death. The 50 year figure is for audio (music) but the USA then is complicated by "work for hire" which has a longer date but historically the law and period has changed several times. In USA the work must, it seems, be registered, while in UK it must just have a solid date. For example we used to be encouraged to post a sealed copy to ourselves and leave it unopened, the date stamp of the PO is proof enough. Same applies to contracts but I think in USA you need a registered certificate.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    In USA the work must, it seems, be registered,
    It doesn't have to be registered (since the Berne Convention, I think) but it can give some extra protection.

    ETA: in fact (just looked it up) the Berne Convention explicitly prohibits the requirement for registration.

    For example we used to be encouraged to post a sealed copy to ourselves and leave it unopened, the date stamp of the PO is proof enough.
    I have been told, by several lawyers, that this has zero value. Has it ever been tested in court?
    Last edited by Strange; 2017-Nov-29 at 06:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    It doesn't have to be registered (since the Berne Convention, I think) but it can give some extra protection.

    ETA: in fact (just looked it up) the Berne Convention explicitly prohibits the requirement for registration.



    I have been told, by several lawyers, that this has zero value. Has it ever been tested in court?
    I don't know but I have asked a notary public in the past about "exchange of letter" contracts and he said he would examine a contested letter
    and if convinced the seal was good, maybe with other circumstantial support, he would confirm the date. That would normally then stand up in court.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Apparently, this "poor man's copyright registration" used to be mentioned (although not exactly endorsed) on the UK IPO website but isn't any more.

    Isn't an exchange of letters (not something I am very familiar with, but I know it can form a valid contract) somewhat different from this, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Apparently, this "poor man's copyright registration" used to be mentioned (although not exactly endorsed) on the UK IPO website but isn't any more.

    Isn't an exchange of letters (not something I am very familiar with, but I know it can form a valid contract) somewhat different from this, though.
    I admit I may be out of date. In my consulting days we often used the post for new concepts we were working on pre patent application and used registered post but it was never needed in court. We did have to defend patents and those letters were used in support of dates as were lab notes in those cases which were contested. Copyright cases for me came later Ie in the 1980 to 2000 period where I was sometimes an expert witness but amazingly most of my cases were settled on the steps of the court as they say. I became rather admiring or barristers who predicted exactly those outcomes once they nailed the point of law. I remember one case where a design (of mine) was copied rather loosely but my client wanted to sue. The other company seemed set to defend on the basis theirs was original. There was a named designer. We went over all the details at length but the barrister said that it was inconceivable the designer had not seen my design, probably pinned on the wall, so he gave notice of his question which would put the designer on the stand. He said a designer will not lie to the court even though he/she lied in the paperwork. He predicted the designer would back out when told about the question and literally on the steps, ten minutes before we were due in court, the other side caved in and ceased production of the copy. It was a copyright case, we had no design registration.

    An exchange of letter contract is basically two copies of an agreement signed and dated by both sides and exchanged. (Or even verbally agreed and witnessed) The date can be certified by a notary public for a fee but the the poor man's method is to seal it and send it registered post to herself or to a solicitor for safe keeping. These do appear in court in civil disputes sometimes. I recall a recent one where one party was drunk and the exchange was in a pub and involved a huge bonus for achieving an ambitious sales target. It was upheld in court despite the drunken state defence. It was a legal contract.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    in support of dates as were lab notes in those cases which were contested.
    Some of the companies I worked for used to have a very rigorous process where every engineer's notebook would be reviewed and signed/dated by their manager at the end of the day. We never had to defend anything on that basis though. (My biggest problem was the ignorance of some US patent examiners!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    Some of the companies I worked for used to have a very rigorous process where every engineer's notebook would be reviewed and signed/dated by their manager at the end of the day. We never had to defend anything on that basis though. (My biggest problem was the ignorance of some US patent examiners!)
    By the end of my time genetically engineered mice were being patented and also software (patented not just copyright). The patent office also stopped worrying about perpetual motion machines and in general started leaving it to competitors to police new patents. That was sad in my opinion because after that it became a lawyers game for big stakes and a small company had little chance of success if the idea clashed with a big company vested interest. It's still worth a "patent applied for " statement but then again those things have bots now so you are alerting the world. IP has changed.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    By the end of my time genetically engineered mice were being patented and also software (patented not just copyright).
    When I started working on patents, I think software had just been made unpatentable.

    The patent office also stopped worrying about perpetual motion machines
    As far as I know, the USPTO will still reject any perpetual motion application without even examining it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    When I started working on patents, I think software had just been made unpatentable.



    As far as I know, the USPTO will still reject any perpetual motion application without even examining it.
    you may not remember the Laithwaite gyroscope patent.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Laithwaite
    I got involved trying to stop a friend investing in a scheme to make a levitation device. Laithwaite claimed publicly that there was no angular momentum in precession so when a gyro lifts in the classroom demo, its free energy. Nonsense but he seemed to really believe it.
    My experience is with UK patent office mainly and at least a few years ago software patents were allowed.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    This reminds me of something closely related to copyright issues in the movie business, which is the performers' rights and contract provisions involving those rights. This can get really goofy. Disney, for example, holds copyrights on its movies but does not have unlimited liberty to distribute them any way they see fit. When they issued Lady and the Tramp on home video, Peggy Lee sued, citing a clause in her contract that barred future reissues other than showings at movie houses without her consent. She was the vocal star of that picture, voicing several characters. Disney's lawyers made fools of themselves arguing that she was not really the star, but rather that the animated figures were. They seemed not to understand that Walt Disney himself went to great lengths to find just the right voice for each character. He was a hard-nosed businessman, but so were Ms. Lee's agents, and they were farsighted in anticipating the possibility that there might someday be a market for home copies. Apparently she had a strong enough contract case that they settled for about $2 million after initially seeking ten times that much. A few years later when the Disney company produced a Christmas figure skating special that included songs from some of their animated films, they used studio recordings with no-name singers instead of the original soundtracks. I wondered why until I remembered the Peggy Lee case. My educated guess is that they had paid big bucks for the Olympic skaters and economized on the music rather than possibly have to pay some of the originals hefty percentages for performance rights. One of the cheap vocalists sounded like a semiskilled teenage boy whose voice had not yet matured.

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    Another related issue that slightly baffles me is TV formats for things like game shows, etc. There is, as far as I can tell, no legal protection for these and yet everyone behaves as if there is. Presumably because they know that no one else would deal with them if they broke the rules.

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    M...I...C...see you in court
    K...E...Y... Why? Because we are protecting our IP.
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    Unless you are a troll of some sort, you really need to pick your battles. Some times, some things seems like a disparagement, but calling attention to it with a lawsuit makes everything worse.

    I worked at company that was very litigious, but would only pursue things that were clearly not allowed. If it was a knock off that clearly used IP, they sued. If someone took obnoxious photos of products to provoke controversy, they got ignored. This was a learned behavior. On one or two occasions, they went to court and won but the "victory" was worse than the original issue. It is a lot like setting yourself on fire. I am sure that some day they will discover "fan fiction" and forget all of their hard learned lessons.
    Solfe, Dominus Maris Pavos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Unless you are a troll of some sort, you really need to pick your battles. Some times, some things seems like a disparagement, but calling attention to it with a lawsuit makes everything worse.

    I worked at company that was very litigious, but would only pursue things that were clearly not allowed. If it was a knock off that clearly used IP, they sued. If someone took obnoxious photos of products to provoke controversy, they got ignored. This was a learned behavior. On one or two occasions, they went to court and won but the "victory" was worse than the original issue. It is a lot like setting yourself on fire. I am sure that some day they will discover "fan fiction" and forget all of their hard learned lessons.
    In other words, Disney is afraid of bad publicity if they go after the suicide mouse videos?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    In other words, Disney is afraid of bad publicity if they go after the suicide mouse videos?
    Maybe. I don't work there. Could be though.

    One great way to burn money is to have an employee watch for such things, seat a bunch of people in a meeting to discuss it, then decided to do nothing at all. It's a great time waster. It really gets expensive if you pull in the legal team only to find out that whatever it was that was bothering you faded away or has no legal ramifications at all (ie - the action or thing is perfectly legal).

    There are better ways to cause yourself problems.
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    A food blogger recently wrote about her recipe for BeaverTails (some kind of fried doughnut, apparently) and was told she couldn't use the name by the owners of the trade mark.

    She ended up calling hers "Canadian Semiaquatic Rodent Posterior Doughnuts"

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgar...daal-1.4417656

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    In other words, Disney is afraid of bad publicity if they go after the suicide mouse videos?
    Mickey mouse is a world wide image and has been used in many ways, therefore it is rather late in the game to use copyright because there will be thousands of examples of copies published all over the place. The new copy would not need to have seen the original but could easily claim they took a ubiquitous idea. So I guess it's much too late to try to restrict use of Mickey.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  28. #28
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    I do like their new Mickey Mouse cartoon series from c 2013. They can still do good things with their IP.

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    I know they didn't go after the guy who filmed Escape From Tomorrow inside the parks. Maybe they watched it and realized that it would fade away as soon as the novelty of how it was filmed wore off.
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    Here's the original creepypasta:
    http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Suicidemouse
    and here is my favorite version (and I've looked at a lot in the past week):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQFZRmh7Rd4

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