Popeye and the Alice Comedies in the Public Domain

Cartoons90

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How did these wind up in the public domain? You'd think Disney would want to own the rights of Walt's earliest works, and you'd think something as iconic as Popeye would ended up being purchased by a network at some point. Any idea on what the deal is?
 

Cartman

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Popeye (the character) is owned by King Features Syndicate, whereas Warners owns the rights to the cartoons. Some Popeyes are in the public domain (e.g. I GOPHER SPINACH, INSECT TO INJURY)
 

Dudley

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I don't how the rights extend to different forms of media, but people can't buy the rights to something that it's in public domain, because it defeats its purpose. Anything that's in public domain can be used by anyone, and anyway they see fit.

Also, Popeye is only in public domain in the U.K.
 

Dr.Pepper

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How did these wind up in the public domain? You'd think Disney would want to own the rights of Walt's earliest works, and you'd think something as iconic as Popeye would ended up being purchased by a network at some point. Any idea on what the deal is?
Heck there are Looney Tunes in public domain
 

Cartoons90

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Oh, okay. If Disney wanted to purchase back the rights to Walt's earliest works within the Alice Comedies, could they? Or is it gone from their grasp forever?
 

Anthonynotes

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Gone forever.... that's the idea behind copyright eventually expiring, as it's supposed to: once it expires after a reasonable length of time, the work goes into public domain for all to use. Unfortunately, Disney (among other media conglomerates) have lobbied heavily to abuse copyright via having it stretched out to a IMO ludicrous length: currently life of the author + 70 years for individual works and 95 years for corporate works.

In the Popeye and Alice comedies' case, before the spate of recent extensions (i.e. before the late 70s), copyright was 28 years with one 28-year renewal allowed. Apparently, some studios forgot to renew their copyrights on some of their shorts (sloppy paperwork, the studio being long defunct, etc.), allowing them to fall into public domain. (Of course, King Features Syndicate still owns the *trademark* on Popeye's image---and Disney presumably owns the trademark on Alice---into perpetuity, per trademark laws, which're seperate from copyright laws...)

-B.
 

Cartoons90

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Gone forever.... that's the idea behind copyright eventually expiring, as it's supposed to: once it expires after a reasonable length of time, the work goes into public domain for all to use. Unfortunately, Disney (among other media conglomerates) have lobbied heavily to abuse copyright via having it stretched out to a IMO ludicrous length: currently life of the author + 70 years for individual works and 95 years for corporate works.

In the Popeye and Alice comedies' case, before the spate of recent extensions (i.e. before the late 70s), copyright was 28 years with one 28-year renewal allowed. Apparently, some studios forgot to renew their copyrights on some of their shorts (sloppy paperwork, the studio being long defunct, etc.), allowing them to fall into public domain. (Of course, King Features Syndicate still owns the *trademark* on Popeye's image---and Disney presumably owns the trademark on Alice---into perpetuity, per trademark laws, which're seperate from copyright laws...)

-B.

So that is to say, only Disney could release new projects featuring the Alice character, but no one owns the exclusive right to make money off the classic episodes that were produced in the '20s?
 

Anthonynotes

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So that is to say, only Disney could release new projects featuring the Alice character, but no one owns the exclusive right to make money off the classic episodes that were produced in the '20s?

No, part of going into public domain is that anyone (Disney, NBC, your cousin, etc.) could make a new project using the character (based on what's in public domain), just as long as it doesn't resemble a trademarked image in use. That's how Disney can keep churning out films based on public-domain fairy tales, but we're still free to make our own Cinderella, Snow White, etc. stories/cartoons/etc. (or Sherlock Holmes stories, films, etc.) as long as Snow White doesn't look like the one in the Disney film.

As for public domain material, anyone can make a DVD and sell public domain material, as all those chintzy $1 DVDs at Walgreens/dollar stores/etc. show, or put it online.
 

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