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 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer

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GoldenBard

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PostSubject: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:41 am

Just came across something that I had to share because it really highlights how weird copyright/public domain issues can be...

I subscribe to "PDHub," a Roku channel featuring public domain content. This week they started putting Christmas stuff out. One of the things they have is "Santa's Ninth Reindeer," which is Rankin-Bass's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." They claim that the original RB special had an invalid copyright notice, making the special (technically) public domain. The powers that be got around this by copyrighting the soundtrack. So someone took the special and either (where possible) stripped out the copyrighted music or (where necessary) replaced it with public domain recordings of other Christmas music, creating a "new" special with a new name! The whole situation just amazes me.

Actually, I recall hearing a while back that something similar happened with "It's a Wonderful Life." The movie was originally such a flop that the studio let the copyright run out, which is why it started be broadcast by everyone and his brother every year at Christmas time. Once it came to be considered a "classic," the studio regretted losing the copyright, but found a way to "reclaim" it by copyrighting the soundtrack separately. So, apparently you can show the movie as a silent film legally, but if want to use the soundtrack, you've got to pay royalties.
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JoeFrankenstein

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PostSubject: Re: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Tue Nov 04, 2014 1:18 pm

Does this mean the characters besides Rudolph are public domain? Yukon Cornelius and King Moonracer could be fun to use.
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GoldenBard

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PostSubject: Re: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:23 am

I'm no legal expert, Joe, but I would assume that they must be.

HOWEVER, I'd put them in the same category as characters like Captain Marvel, where the law may be on your side, but you can expect to still get dragged into court by someone with MUCH greater financial resources than you. So, they don't have to win the case, just keep it going until you hit bankruptcy.
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JoeFrankenstein

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PostSubject: Re: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:56 pm

should they get a disputed character page on the wiki?
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GoldenBard

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PostSubject: Re: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:26 pm

JoeFrankenstein wrote:
should they get a disputed character page on the wiki?

I'm not really involved with the wiki, but it seems like it might be appropriate. Although, honestly, I would think that their usefulness would be rather limited (they are SUCH niche characters....).
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captainwhizz

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PostSubject: Re: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer/Santa's Ninth Reindeer   Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:51 pm

According to Wikipedia, Rudolph was created in 1939 by Robert L. May for Montgomery Ward.
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