Disney Explaining Copyright Law this Christmas

Imagine if you will – one of the greatest actors of our time playing one of the world’s most iconic creative figures coupled with the subject matter of the film centering around copyright law.  With all of those elements combined, you would have the mix for pretty much a perfect movie custom tailored to all of my interests.  It’s almost as if Walt Disney Pictures called me up and said, “Ryanne what do you think we should make a movie about?”  I have not seen the film; however, from all indications Saving Mr. Banks, scheduled for nationwide release on December 20, seems certain to make my Christmas movie-going experience delightful.

For the official Disney preview of the film watch below:

How amazing does that look?!?! As well intentioned as Mr. Disney might have been, he could not have made the now film classic with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke without her permission.  As I discussed in Magic Wands of Copyright, the right to make a derivative work from an existing copyrighted work lies with the copyright holder in the original creative work.  In this case, P.L. Travers retained the copyright in her book Mary Poppins.  In order for Walt to make the book Mary Poppins into a film, he must secure the intellectual property rights from P.L. Travers and receive permission (in legal speak – a license) in order to make the film.  For someone wanting to purchase film rights today and if they do not have the resources of Walt Disney Studios, I outlined one process that could be followed about how to purchase film rights in an earlier post titled How To Buy Film Rights.

I am certain that since Walt Disney Pictures made the movie Saving Mr. Banks that the story of their relationship has been completely “Disneyfied” and polished with that special Disney trademark magic. I’m more interested to see the backend story of how the ultimate Wizard behind the curtain was able to pull off a tough negotiation.  I am also thrilled a subject matter I love, intellectual property coupled with contract law, has a front-row discussion this holiday season by way of Disney.  Oh, and, let’s be honest who doesn’t want to see Tom Hanks play Walt Disney?  Mark the date – December 20.  Look for me in the theater.  And, Stay Tuned In!

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5 thoughts on “Disney Explaining Copyright Law this Christmas

  1. Excellent copyright analysis of author’s rights in a derivative work. However, Disney may have asserted claim of fair use. Considerations that could’ve been asserted by Disney include the transformative nature of the work Mr. Banks being about the movie Mary Poppins being made. And that Mr Banks does not lessen the commercial appeal of the original work. Better course chosen by Disney to secure rights from author. —Will

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