Thursday, March 04, 2010


Diz Co. has battled the internets, and (at least this once) waved the white flag.

The Walt Disney Corp. has surrendered its control over use of the University of Oregon's costumed athletic mascot –quite possibly in response to a brouhaha involving The Duck, three UO students and a rap video that went viral on the Internet.

Supwitchugirl made a video in November titled "I Love My Ducks" for student-run DuckU television ... The video included clips of the three students – Bishop, Brian McAndrew and Jamie Slade – and The Duck, referred to in the video as "Puddles." ...

But use of The Duck, which bears a strong resemblance to the Disney character Donald Duck, was limited by a licensing agreement that supposedly dates to a handshake between Walt Disney and former UO athletic Leo Harris in 1947.

Supwitchugirl hadn't asked the university for permission to use The Duck. The university responded by ordering the students to take down the video, fearing it violated the Disney licensing agreement.

Supwitchugirl pulled the video off of YouTube. But by then the Internet and social networking sites had taken it world wide. The more university tried to stamp it out, the more popular it became ...

The problem with trying to control sounds and images going across the internet is simple and obvious.

It's freaking impossible to control them.

Yet that's why many of our fine conglomerates and related entertainment unions/ guilds are currently so agitated. Music, videos and feature films fly around the worldwide web at the speed of light, and there's not one hell of a lot the congloms can do about it. This has grave consequences when it comes to distributing copyrighted material.

But, swear to God, some of the things companies get miffed about are comical. I've seen studio execs get miffed over the premature unvealing of an animated feature's screen ratio (CinemaScope) and a cartoon character's barely-detectable model sheet changes. I was once tongue-lashed for revealing that a movie sequel's title was Lion King 1 1/2. (My response was: "You have to to be shitting me.")

The thing of it is, when there are genuine threats to the commercial viability of entertainment products which companies and labor unions rely on to stay in business, it's silly to get riled up about small, peripheral issues -- like publicity for that product -- that only enhances the work's salability.

It's why the smarter studios stopped fighting Ain't It Cool News long ago. It dawned on them that the site could help put fannies in theater seats if they worked wit the fanboys rather than sue them. And it might be why, now, this has happened:

... Disney ceded control of the [Duck] mascot, and the student inside the costume, to the university ...

Companies with brains know the difference between theft of product and publicity. Theft damages the bottom line. Publicity helps. Kudos to the big Mouse for figuring that out.


Anonymous said...

They're both ducks... That's the end of the resemblance as I see it. Last I checked, one couldn't trademark water foul just because you made a cartoon of one once. But of course we're talking about Disney, Good thing Ratatouille was owned by Disney before anyone tried to introduce another rat (or mouse).

Anonymous said...

WHOO BOY! That is an awful video. If I sued them for any reason, it'd be for being so awful.

Unknown said...

A bunch of meat heads dancing around. Not my cup of tea.

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