A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Wizard of Oz

We’re Off to See the Wizard; Will We Recognize Him?

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By LASIS Staff
In an article last March, contributor Sarah Berent wrote about the likelihood that new film versions of The Wizard of Oz (there are nine of ‘em in the pipeline) will have to steer clear of the copyrighted material in the classic 1939 film.

We predicted that this was likely; we were right.

See this Eighth Circuit ruling on a related matter.

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I’ll Get You (for Copyright), My Pretty!

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By Sarah Berent

The 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz, based on the first novel of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, is so beloved, so intertwined with our popular culture that it’s hard to envision another version or even sequel or prequel without thinking of the world the original film created. Judy Garland is and forever will be Dorothy; same for Frank Morgan as Oz, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion, and so on.

There are nine Wizard of Oz-related projects in development, which is due both to the quality of the material and to all fourteen books in Baum’s Oz series residing comfortably in the public domain — that is, the books are no longer protected by copyright laws and anyone has the right to recreate the stories in any medium.

Yet the 1939 film is firmly protected by copyright. Warner Brothers currently holds the rights and as Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter Esq. reported, the studio is willing to vigorously defend its interests in the film. In 2009, Warner Brothers successfully sued a company that used images from the movie’s 1939 publicity posters to make t-shirts for copyright infringement.

What does this mean for all of the other Wizard of Oz-related films in the studio pipelines? (The most anticipated being Disney’s version: the Sam Raimi directed Oz: The Great and Powerful with James Franco attached.) Will they be able to use or reference Dorothy and friends without triggering a copyright infringement lawsuit from Warner Brothers? (more…)

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