Re “Whose mouse is it anyway?,” Column One, Aug. 22
One interesting side note is that the character of Steamboat Willie is cribbed from Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. If you see the two together, it’s obvious.
I don’t mean to imply that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks necessarily committed a copyright violation -- there may be just enough original content in Steamboat Willie to avoid that humiliation. Still, since I learned the origin, it has always struck me that Walt Disney Co. has been extremely cynical about intellectual property.
This is an interesting article. The “Steamboat Willie” Mickey, in all probability, does fall into the public domain. However, the practicality of the public using him without facing wrathful financial rape from Disney is nonexistent.
I, like many ex-Disney artists, have fallen victim to the company’s legal department. In my situation, as in many others, Disney had no legal foot to stand on. But it has deep pockets. It will bleed you dry financially through appeals and postponements rather than lose the case.
Disney has no morality or ethics when it comes to defending what it wants, no matter its legal right or ownership. It is not, as the ad says, “the happiest place on Earth.”