Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Snow White and the Seven Angry Lawyers

Now for an IP case that does have merit. Posted on Slashfood, here's an article about a promotional campaign for an Australian brewer that was... poorly thought out.

Jamieson's Brewery is launching a new raspberry ale under the slogan "Anything but sweet", aimed at convincing Aussie beer drinkers that fruit beers don't all taste like candy. Unfortunately they used a depiction of a certain "Ho White" and the seven renamed dwarves ("Smarmy", "Randy", etc.).

The Mouse was not amused.

And rightly so. This is clearly a derivative work, damaging to the wholesome reputation of the original movie. And since Disney will push to extend copyright terms any time any of its characters nears the public domain (Mickey first appeared in 1928!), it will also defend those copyrights. And here they'd be justified. Since it's an advertisement selling beer, any Fair Use parody defense will almost certainly fail.

Of course the use of a 'Snow White' character isn't itself a copyright violation. The stories have long been in the public domain, most notably the Brothers Grimm version. Using the basic storyline (Beautiful girl has problems with stepmother, flee to woods to live with creepy short guys, oops poison apple, Prince Charming saves day) wouldn't be a violation at all. But the picture is obviously derived from the Disney characters and this is just what copyright is designed for.

Even though this ad is a lot closer to the original story than Disney's movie ever was.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.