Winnie the Pooh and Bambi enter the public domain in the US, what does this mean for Disney?


The original Winnie-the-Pooh story written by British A.A. Milne (and illustrated by E.H. Shepard) and Bambi, Felix Saltine’s A Life in the Woods is now in the public domain in America. According to the copyright law explained by the Duke University Center for Public Domain Studies in North Carolina: “When works are 95 years old, they can be shared legally, without permission or fees. Something Winnie the Pooh will appreciate, as it helps allow access to cultural items that might otherwise be lost in history. It states a document written by the center’s director, Jennifer Jenkins.

The text also indicates that literary works from 1926 are not only open, as a large number of audio recordings have also been added to the public domain, estimated at over 400,000 audio recordings prior to 1923. “When works enter the public domain in 2022, anyone will be able to rescue them from obscurity and make them available, to be able to discover them, to enjoy them, and to give them new life.”

What does this mean for both Disney movies?

Knowing that all Disney mods are protected by copyright, as are subsequent works by the authors of Bambi and Winnie the Pooh. Only modifications, blends, or continuations of both stories should be based on original works published in 1926. In this way, Disney retains the rights to its animated films, but the original characters and stories are left free for new films, books, etc.

As an expert on the topic, Jennifer Jenkins was asked in an interview on American Public Radio in the previous days, what does it really mean for characters like Bambi and Winnie the Pooh to enter the public sphere? To which project manager at Duke University He clarified that Disney still has the copyright to its latest films, eg Winnie-the-Pooh. Also record the words of Winnie-the-Pooh. “We’re not talking about sticking Disney’s Winnie the Pooh on a backpack or pajama or lunch box. We’re talking about literary work, that great A.A. Milne book from 1926.” This is in the public domain, and we can all revisit it and re-imagin it and write our own version.” Jenkins replied in the interview.

Although Disney will lose the rights to Mickey Mouse in 2024The company took advantage of this law which has assigned many of its animated shows to public domain works such as: Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland and most recently The Snow Queen. Renamed as Frozen.

It also highlights the enormous influence of Disney on copyright law in the United States, which faced the prospect of losing the rights of the world’s most famous mouse, and managed to extend the legal term from 75 to 95 years in a matter of signed in 1998.



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