Disney; The Ali Baba of the Public Domain?

I am sure there aren’t many people left on the planet who don’t know who or what Disney is. The bringer of visual joy courtesy of TV and Cinema screens for over 90 years.

I don’t think the same number of people are aware of where Disney gets the majority of their ideas. Go on, guess. Yes, that’s right the good ol’ Public Domain.

I have nothing against the fact they use the stories, tales and ideas of others to create fantastic movies, animations and cartoons for children and adults to enjoy. I do however mind the blatant hypocrisy with which they hinder others from using their material and the that of the public domain with the same ease.

For years now Disney and the 40 lawyers have ensured and secured the tight hold on their mouse Mickey and the whole kit and caboodle that comes with it.The Disney Corporation have been working hard to make sure their works never enter the public domain. This has a knock-on domino effect on other works in the public domain.

The result: Disney keeps on merrily using public domain works to create more magical movies for young and old, whilst ensnaring the same works in their spiders web of legality. The ‘Open Sesame’ and ‘Close Sesame of Disney, the cave of public domain treasures. You can look, but you can’t touch.

What you and I can touch are the pieces quite a lot of the Disney extravaganzas have been based on. By the way the list is quite long.

So pull up your knickers and hold on tight ‘cos you’re getting the key to the cave tonight. You can get free downloads of the original literature or works Disney has based their hits on by clicking on any of the links below the titles, all courtesy of the Internet Archive, Feedbooks and Librivox. So without further adue, let’s Let it Go…

The (2013) hit Frozen is based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. Free download at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Beauty and the Beast is based on La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont, which in turn was based on a more detailed and the oldest known version of the same name by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Free downloads at the Internet Archive or Librivox.

Around the World in 80 Days is based on Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. Free download at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Christmas Carol, based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks, Librivox or read the review here.
The Little Mermaid based on The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

The Princess and the Frog, based on The Frog Princess by E.D.Baker, which in turn was based on The Frog Prince by the Brother’s Grimm. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Oliver & Company, based on Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Alice in Wonderland, based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

The Three Musketeers, based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Return to Oz, based on the original books of Oz by L.Frank Baum. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
John Carter, based on A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Treasure Island, based on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Aladdin, based on a folk-tale from One Thousand and One Nights, Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

The Adventures of Huck Finn, based on Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Tom and Huck, based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Bug’s Life, based on Aesop’s Fables by Aesop. Free downloads at the Internet Archive or Librivox.
White Fang based on White Fang by Jack London. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Kidnapped, based on Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Robinson Crusoe, based on Lt. Robin Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Return to Neverland, based on Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Pinocchio, based on Pinocchio: The Tale of a Puppet by Carlo Collodi. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Rob Roy the Highland Rogue, based on Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott. Free downloads at the Internet Archive or Librivox.

Swiss Family Robinson, based on The Swiss Family Robinson; or Adventures in a Desert Island by Johann David Wyss. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.
Tangled, based on Rapunzel the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Tarzan, based on Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox. It is also based on The Wind in the Willows by  Kenneth Grahame. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox.

Atlantis, based on The Legend of Atlantis taken from the Socratic Dialogues Timaeus and Critias by Plato. Free downloads at the Internet Archive, Feedbooks or Librivox (includes Critias & Timaeus).
In Search of the Castaways, based on In Search of the Castaways by Jules Verne. Free downloads at the Internet Archive or Librivox.

Believe it or not this is only a small portion of the stories Disney has based on pieces from the public domain. Now can you say hypocrite.

Disney has created a  huge empire, it is one of worlds largest global media conglomerates. The majority of their blockbusters have been built on the back of the public domain. Disney has made sure that their material cannot be used any time in the future by their competitors or by anyone else for that matter.

Their legal teams fight for copyright extension. The Sonny Bono Act of 1998 (the Copyright Term Extension Act) was passed with no opposition at all. Why, because the pockets of the politicians were padded with gold and we the public had no voice in it at all.

That in itself is not only cause for concern, but also a disgrace. The public domain material belongs to the public and yet we have to stand by while our access to it shrinks day by day.

Meanwhile conglomerates like Disney and opportunists like the con-men placing false claims on public domain channels, such as GenXMedia, are profiting from the fact the public don’t realise that certain material is in the public domain. Free to read, listen to and look at. It belongs to you and it belongs to me, because we are the public.

It doesn’t belong to profit-mongers who see fit to steal from the cave of treasures of the public domain, and then resell it to us, as if it were their treasure to sell in the first place. Have fun with the key to the cave, I hope you download many treasures…they are yours you know.

2 thoughts on “Disney; The Ali Baba of the Public Domain?

  1. And the way they especially exploit the Grimm's tales (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty along with the ones noted here, and the way they exploit cultural legends (Pocahontas [from Native American legend of], Anastasia [from Russian legend of], Mulan [from Chinese legend of Hua Mulan], Robin Hood [from English folk tales of], Sword in the Stone [from legends of King Arthur]) and other things like Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book and Hercules and on and on and on and on. Re-publishing time-proven stories as their own, God forbid they should have to pay for the rights for any of these things. It's beyond shameful, really. Great post!

  2. I was saying to Gen yesterday that I only used half of the examples I had written down and researched. The list was so long I would have to do a second post, just so people don't go all bug-eyed at the amount of public domain material they (Disney) have used.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s