• Priyanka

A Copyright is an exclusive right granted to a creator of an original work to reproduce his own work or authorise reproduction of the same to others for a fixed tenure after which the copyrighted work falls into public domain.
copyright is protected for 95 years from the date of first publication. However, copyrighted works published in the USA after January 1st, 1978 are protected for the author's lifetime plus 70 years. Further depending on whether or not the work was of “work-for-hire” nature or created by a corporation, the term may change as well. However, works published before January 1, 1927 (other than sound recordings), have already made their way into the public domain.
A.A. Milne, the author of the book ‘Winnie the Pooh’ had published the book in 1926. As a result, the legendary characters from the book namely, “Winnie the Pooh”, “Piglet”, “Kanga”, “Owl”, “Eeyore” have entered the public domain as of 1st January 2022 and therefore are not under copyright protection anymore. However, the character "Tigger" who first appears in the novel in 1928, happens to be still protected by copyright for another two years.
*We claim no copyright rights in the above image. It has been used for representational purposes only.
Moreover, Milne's original text, as well as the characters he created, are available for free use. However, it does not mean that anyone may exploit the concept of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ artistically or commercially as Disney stills owns the copyrights for all the subsequent versions of the ‘Winnie the Pooh’ characters. In 1961, Disney had purchased the licensing rights of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ from Stephen Slesinger, New York television and film producer who had obtained the rights from Milne himself in 1930. By the virtue of purchase of the licensing rights, Disney’s subsequent versions of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ characters are under copyright protection for years to come.
Authors and companies may reproduce, reprint or alter the original content by A.A. Milne with minor restrictions. However, any additional adaptations or merchandising of items may constitute to be infringing on the existing copyright rights owned by Disney. As per reported in the New York Times, Disney has earned around $5.5 billion in revenue from its Winnie the Pooh merchandise.
Other notable books that entered the public domain at the start of the year include Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," T.E. Lawrence's "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom," which was later adapted into the film "Lawrence of Arabia," and Felix Salten's "Bambi, A Life in the Woods," which Disney adapted into the film "Bambi."


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