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●  Sign this open letter concerning Disney’s ongoing abuse of the public domain by adding your full name, place and country of residence, and a personal note if you wish in the comments section below.

●  What should be done to preserve the public domain as one of humanity’s most important intellectual resources? Are you an expert or do you feel personally concerned? Either way, please tell us about it.

●  Forward this question to friends and discuss it in newspaper articles, magazines and social media. Free editorial illustrations can be downloaded here.

●  Produce a video, song or any other multimedia performance that will be seen by millions around the world. The most impressive submission wins the world’s first e-book of The True Snow White on one of Steve Jobs’ latest iPads.

●  Assist us with legal counsel and donate to The True Snow White’s legal defense costs. Every contribution, large or small, makes a difference. Consider how much just US$1.00 times so many of us in this world could do.

Though not required, please state your full name, city and country of residence so we know where your support is coming from.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

Don’t just sit back and do nothing. Don’t keep encouraging unbridled global media monopolies to dominate your and your children’s future world of thought and entertainment by creating insurmountable obstacles for everyone else.

Any surplus funds from your donations will be given to charity as we have done in the past, and you’ll be kept informed about their prudent use through this site.

10 Responses to “”

  1. Céline Lemoine Says:

    Imagine an orchard filled with apple trees. The people who grew those trees are long gone, and everyone is welcome to enjoy the beautiful, juicy fruit or grow new varieties by grafting branches of the existing trees.

    Yet once the variety I created ends up in every international market and is force-fed to every child in the world, I decide – with the graceful support of various cats which have grown so fat they won’t even try to catch the mouse – to lock up the orchard and claim it as my exclusive property.

    Wouldn’t you say that the worm is in the fruit?

  2. Kate Kasserman Says:

    It is a constant source of astonishment to me, although it shouldn’t be any more, that the “haves” are so blind drunk on their power that they think they have some Heaven-sanctioned right to PUBLIC PROPERTY. I wish Disney were an exception in this regard. Okay, actually I wish none of them were doing it at all.

  3. Classical Music DCM Says:

    DISNEY wants SNOW WHITE as a trademark! What’s next? Breathing Tax? Stop Disney!

  4. Cristina Says:

    I remember last year being very upset with this world’s twisted perception of justice when I heard that McDonald’s was trademarking their motto “I’m lovin’ it“. Now if that isn’t stealing from the public, I don’t know what is.

    Patents and Trademarks Offices around the world are a necessary evil capitalism has created, but now the creatures have turned on the creator. I compare them with the auditing firms and rating agencies like Moody’s that were supposed to be impartial. It’s all they had to do: be impartial. It’s not that difficult, really. Our whole economy was built on that trust. Yet once we realized that the so-called guardians were rotten, the entire sand castle collapsed and it was far too late for anything to be done.

    I’m afraid something similar is going to happen with universal knowledge if we continue to assume that the agencies responsible for protecting it are impartial. And by the time we realize that they have already sold their hearts and souls to mega corporations, it will be too late. You won’t be able to tell your granny “I’m lovin’ it” about her cherry cake any more without having to pay tribute to a burger factory!

    The Walt Disney Company is only part of a much greater problem. Disney’s former management clearly stated that all they cared about was money. It perfectly defines what they are: a powerful, greedy corporation concerned only with themselves. They never betrayed us in that sense since their founder, Walt Disney, passed away and his dream with him.

    But the Patents and Trademark Offices around the world – they are the ones we should keep an eye on and demand explanations from. They have to be brought to justice, plain and simple. They promised that they would be impartial, fair, and protect us, and that is why we entrust them with the administration of our intellectual property. They are the ones that act unnaturally, if not even unlawfully.

  5. Harald Walter Azmann Says:

    Today on @twitter re. Danny Silverman: Trademark is soooo the new copyright. @RonColeman: Who says you can extend copyright in a literary character through trademark?

    @truesnowwhite: Let alone morph a popular public domain character like Snow White through copyright into trademark.

    Unlike other forms of intellectual property like patents and copyrights, a registered trademark can theoretically last forever. That’s why Disney wants a Snow White trademark. They know the law considers a trademark to be a form of property.

    A Snow White trademark would confer a bundle of exclusive rights upon Disney, including exclusive use of that mark. Once Disney is granted a Snow White trademark, they could start legal proceedings to prevent ANY unauthorized use. And here we are talking about a public domain character Disney never owned in the first place! WAKE UP WORLD!

    @Disney: Can you stand on your head? http://yfrog.com/gzk19jp (Cheshire Cat) / @Disney: What do you want me to do, dress in drag and do the hula? http://yfrog.com/h0us86j (Timon)

    @HaraldWAzmann: Just so you know: I watch Disney and Pixar movies with my children all the time; well, the real good ones. And there are quite a few. PS: But Monsters, Inc. I’ll even watch alone if I have to. =)

    @truesnowwhite: Disney has every reason to be confident rather than fearing creative competition. What an evil Queen approach! And once Disney “owns” Snow White, what about the other major Hollywood productions currently underway? Will Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart et al do a job no one will ever see? What’s your view @RonColeman?

  6. Tal Benschar Says:

    1. There is a danger for Disney here. If the Grimm brothers tale came first and they adapted it to the screen (I think that is the facts), then Snow White the movie is a derivative work. Which is fine, except you have to say that on the copyright application. You can invalidate a copyright on that basis.

    2. Disney might have a copyright and even a trademark in their drawings of Snow White, but I am dubious whether the character (without the Disney-fied drawings) functions as a mark.

    3. As I said in another post, trademark infringement requires confusion. If you have a strong enough disclaimer, you can get away with using a mark. If they entitle the movie “The Brothers Grimm Snow White” with a tag line “It’s not your father’s Disney version,” then TM infringement is that much harder.

    4. Look at the recent Betty Boop decision out of the Ninth Circuit. It revives an old idea that where you have a copyright or patent, you cannot then convert it to a trademark upon expiration. That is dictum in a famous patent opinion by Justice Brandeis (which, IIRC, deals with a breakfast cereal). Good to see this notion making a comeback.

  7. Ronald D. Coleman Says:

    Tal, yes, thinking into a bit further – including by virtue of a chat with Harald – I agree with all four of your points. I might flesh out in (2) that the character-alone issue aside (and Harald notes that you’ll usually see Snow White with the Seven Dwarfs), there doesn’t seem to be any bona fide claim by Disney in the word mark SNOW WHITE.

  8. Dan Ballard Says:

    The phrase “Snow White” is not used solely to name the fictional character created by the Brothers Grimm. Snow is white and so the phrase can reasonably refer to white snow – and all creative, real world variations on that theme. Which is why the phrase is used as a mark by many folks to brand many different products. Some are federally registered [for gypsum, rice, flour, cheese, sugar].

    But when the phrase is used to name the fictional character then, I think, the phrase MERGES [as “merge” is understood under copyright law] with that character – and because that character is within copyright’s public domain so is the name.

    So when Disney claims trademark rights in SNOW WHITE to brand “Production, presentation, distribution, and rental of motion picture films” the scope of those rights is limited to brand those ACTIVITIES only.

    Those trademark rights cannot prevent, for example, Smith Productions, Inc. from producing, presenting, distributing, or renting a movie called “Snow White” or a movie containing a non-Disney created version of the Snow White character. Those movies would be PRODUCTS that copyright law freely permits to be made that result from Smith Production’s film making activities.

    I think Disney’s trademark rights as described above would merely preclude others from naming a film production company “Snow White” or “Snow White Productions” or something confusingly similar. Is this splitting hairs? Yup. Will Disney likely assert the SNOW WHITE trademark rights described above to try to stop others from producing Snow White movies? Probably.

  9. Harald Walter Azmann Says:

    Hello Ron,

    thank you for spending some of your time with us, even on Sunday. I hope you will enjoy the rest of it.

    It’s always amazing how the Internet makes our modern world so small. And just in case I haven’t taken enough time to make this clear before, THANK YOU for catching the ball so elegantly which I tried to serve the world through @truesnowwhite on Twitter in an effort to let Prince Charming know about the whereabouts of The True Snow White.

    A light that is set on a hill cannot be hid, Solvwyn, the chief of the Seven Dwarves, said to his comrades in our rendition of the classic story. That’s why they didn’t want to bury Snow White in the cold, dark earth in the first place, but built a coffin of glass for the young princess to be seen from all sides and placed her on a hilltop, at its highest vantage point, with a breathtaking view of the forests and valleys below.

    You should know that you were the very first to respond to our message and in the most effective way. Your blog article impressed us. If you will, let’s stay in touch and see what happens to the rightful Queen-to-be a little further down the road. Maybe her Prince Charming may deliver her by starting to see the forest for the trees after all.

    All the best,


  10. Ronald D. Coleman Says:

    Yes, Harald, let’s by all means stay in touch! I admire your spirit and your optimistic approach. It has been a pleasure meeting you!

    Ronald D. Coleman, a commercial litigator focusing on copyright, trademark and unfair competition, focuses on commercial and intellectual property litigation and works at the leading edge in IP, online and new media counseling. Ron is one of the lawyers whose work is developing the law relating to the use and abuse of intellectual property on the Internet.

    One of the best-known lawyers in the “blogging” world, he is the volunteer general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association. His blog about copyright, trademark, free speech and related issues, LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION®, was recognized by the ABA Journal as one of the top 100 law-related blogs in the country in its first-ever listing of law blogs in 2007. (Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP – Dedicated to Excellence)

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