One of the most compelling parts of Lawrence Lessig’s keynote address at OSCON was the focus on how many of Disney’s works have been built on the public domain, as well as works not yet in the public domain. Steamboat Willie, the original Mickey Mouse cartoon that would have fallen out of the public domain were it not for the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act (which Disney lobbied hard for) was itself a parody of another film called Steamboat Bill, Jr.. Disney actively tries to stifle any parodies of Mickey Mouse or its other famous characters.
On the new Monsters, Inc. DVD, there’s a preview of an upcoming Disney film I hadn’t heard of before: Treasure Planet. It’s a remake of Treasure Island, set in outer space. (And it looks like a rip-off of Titan A.E..)
Although I disagree with the perpetual extension of copyright, I can see how some people who depend on copyright for their living might feel differently, and I don’t condemn them for that. But this kind of double standard—continuing to build a commercial empire on the public domain, while fighting hard to ensure that your own works never enter it—disgusts me.