Fans were shocked when the endearing bear “Winnie the Pooh” will make a bizarre cameo as a serial killer in the upcoming indie horror movie titled “Winnie the Pooh : Blood and Honey”. According to US law, this is due to the favorite cartoon lapsing into the public domain.
What is the public domain?
Public domain refers to a work that is made available for the public to republish or recreated and is not subjected to copyright or other legal restrictions.
Under the U.S. copyright law, works of corporate or pseudonymous authorship lapse into the public domain after either 95 years from first publication or 120 years after creation, whichever ends first.
The first ever AA Milne collection of stories about “Winnie the Pooh” was released in 1926. Another original publication also includes a poem about the anthropomorphic bear in the 1924 children’s verse book “When We Were Very Young”. Since Milne’s original “Winnie the Pooh” publications are over 95 years, they fell into the public domains which are now free of copyright protection.
This means if any other companies than Disney wanted to republish into their own animated adaptation of work, they actually could. Now this explains the freaky Winnie the Pooh.
Are there limitations in the public domain?
If the work is subjected to a few important protections, then the answer is yes. The desirable access to respective artworks can be obtained through a license granted by the copyright’s owner.
In reference to the case of Pooh, the freedom only extends to that first original book and that which is contained in it. Don’t get confused, Milne wrote a total of four books. These copyright expirations did not necessarily mean for all four books.
Quick flash : Exception for fair use
One of the most important exceptions from copyright protection is fair use. This means the work that is used for teaching or political commentary is considered as a fair use which requires no permission or compensation.
Unless the work is used to depict different ideas, or the artwork being expressed in certain ways or personalities then it is strongly illegal which license is a prerequisite.
Disney’s right in Pooh
Disney acquired the rights to “Winnie-the-Pooh” in 1961, dropping the hyphen and releasing the animation classic ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree in 1966, where Winnie appeared for the first time in his modern form.
The lovable yellow bear in the red shirt walks the portrait of Pooh owned by Disney. Time will tell whether the impact of Winnie-the-Pooh entering the public domain will fuel Disney to lobby the extension period of copyright protection for modern Winnie-the-Pooh, or if they will finally let this work enter the public domain for all creatives to use.
Exy tips : Those who want to recreate, republish or profit from eminent characters and works that are beginning to enter the public domain or fall into copyright expirations must be very careful not to violate the protections that still apply on them. They must ensure that they only recreate the derivative part of the artwork and not infringe the copyright.
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