Disney Lawyers Viewing the New Oz Film With a Microscope
Well, maybe not a microscope exactly, but they are viewing the film quite closely, and looking for possible copyright infringements. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank Baum, is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. However, Baum’s novel was also the basis for the 1939 Warner Bros film The Wizard of Oz, which remains protected by copyright.
Every frame of Disney’s newly released film, The Great and Powerful Oz has been examined closely by lawyers, and not just because they are fans of its star, James Franco. Lawyers’ recommendations have led Disney to change certain features of the film, for reasons other than their – ahem – expertise as film critics.
Can you say, due diligence? My guess is that we’ll still see a copyright lawsuit or two coming out of Disney’s new film. But this “preemptive” process does lend credence to the fact that it may be cost-effective to run creative projects by copyright lawyers before they’re released to the public.