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Unauthorized Movie Shot at Disney Parks; What Should Disney Do?

25 Jan

This week at StudiosCentral, my Jentasmic! column addresses a movie that’s getting a lot of internet buzz and prompting discussions of intellectual property rights:

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet about Escape from Tomorrow, a film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week. The film was shot primarily at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, without permission from Disney; cast and crew filmed surreptitiously, mostly with handheld cameras. It tells the story of a man slowly losing his mind during the course of a day at Walt Disney World, after receiving bad news by phone in the early part of the day. It’s certainly not anything that a reasonable person would confuse for an actual Disney product. (Of course, like most people who aren’t at Sundance, I haven’t seen the film.)

Head over to StudiosCentral to read the rest. (tl;dr: I don’t think Disney should do a thing.

Chinese Anime/Disney-Lookalike Video Service

23 Jan

From Anime News Network:

The Chinese service Xu You Ji lets parents pay to have their children turned into 3D models and animated in their own CG action-adventure shorts. The children also dub their own voices into the work. The custom video service debuted in 2009, but recently garnered attention because of one of its videos, featuring Gundam models and other anime elements, was posted online this week.

An example of their use of Disney-copyrighted materials is at 3:10 in this video, and again as the credits roll at about 5:30:

And yes, the company claims there’s no copyright issue here. Go to their FAQ and let your browser translate, and you should see something like this at question 4:

those cartoons on TV common is it? There are no copyright issues?

The animation is our own design and development headquarters, and have our own rights, but also into some of the popular cartoon elements, but by our own cartoon adaptation, does not involve copyright issues.

Ah, those wacky cross-cultural differences when it comes to intellectual property rights.

Disneyland Vacation, Circa 1976

16 Aug

When my parents packed up our red Volkswagen bus and drove us down to Anaheim, they could not possibly have known that 31 years later I’d be blogging about it. But man, I wish they could have . . . maybe they would have saved that awesome Mickey Mouse shirt I’m wearing!

I’ve uploaded a handful of photos from that trip to Flickr, including a shot of Tomorrowland Plaza that we think was taken from the Skyway. Or maybe Astro Orbiter? Also, we’re not entirely sure these photos were taken in 1976, so if any Disney geeks out there can confirm or deny that year based on details from the photos, please do.

I love these old pictures of Disneyland, and will admit to the narcissistic joy of seeing my cute little 1970s self, complete with coke-bottle glasses. But the truly embarrassing moment? Realizing that this is also the trip I talked about a couple months back on Mouse Guest Weekly, where I hid in terror through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, terrified from that long first drop (which admittedly is much scarier in Anaheim than Orlando). Given how spooked I was, I thought I’d been 5 or 6 on that trip! But no, based on some family details in the photos I’ve got to be at least 8, but probably closer to 10.

Ahh, the Skyway, the Peoplemover! I shall never grow tired of the tomorrow we dreamed about yesterday.

Nara Dreamland: Another Disney Clone Park

16 Jun

Thank goodness for the Interweb. How else would I have friends like Eric from MouseGuest, who send me links to awesome things I may have otherwise missed?

Nara Dreamland is another Asian Disney clone park, this time in Nara, Japan. The illustrated trip review at ThemeParkInsider presents it as a wonderful mass of contradictions. One minute you’re in Disneyland, the next you’re in that haunted, abandoned theme park from Spirited Away. And Hello Kitty is there too!

Haven’t had enough? Need a little spin on the Screw Coaster? Here’s a YouTube for you, from the same good people:

New Copyright Alliance Formed In D.C.

12 Jun

Fans of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act will be glad to hear that a new copyright alliance has been formed, intending to further strengthen copyright laws. (Regular slashdot readers will not be surprised to hear . . . “I for one welcome our copyright-law-promoting overlords!”)

Those of us who are not great fans of the MMPA, on the other hand, may be a tad concerned that things are going too far. Lautreamont once wrote “Plagiarism is necessary. Progress demands it.” The Qlipoth blog has an interesting commentary on this quote:

The type of plagiarism needed is taking up, a making one’s own of ideas. Just as in the best experiences of drugs, riots, music, sex, and perhaps others – the boundaries of where one begins and another ends become blurred, but not erased – plagiarism must do the same. Plagiarism as detournement, but directed less at changing the original than at producing the new.

As society becomes increasingly post-modern, so must art. Did Andy Warhol commit plagiarism by re-appropriating the famous Campbell Soup can? Are mash-up videos inherently plagiarist? Where is the line, and who gets to draw it?

Video of Chinese Fake Disney Park

10 May

Have any doubts about whether Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park is a Disneyland knockoff? Just watch this:

Man, seeing those beloved characters represented through ill-fitting, cheaply-made fur costumes . . . and when they take their heads off in front of Guests . . . I can’t help but shudder.

But does anybody else find this all a bit amusing, especially in the context of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act? And the fact that many of Disney’s best-loved classic characters are based on public-domain folklore?

And there’s more on the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park situation today from DIS News:

Disney bosses are in crisis talks with the owners of a ‘fake’ Chinese version of the famous amusement park.

The Shijingshan Amusement Park included a raven-haired woman with seven men in elf suits, a ‘Mickey’ mouse and other Disney-style characters.

Deputy general manager, Yin Zhiqiang, said: “The characters in our park just look a little bit similar to theirs. But the faces, clothes, sizes and appearances are different.”

“We do not have any agreements with Disney.”

Copycat Disneyland in Beijing

4 May

Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park

An avid reader tipped me off to this last night, and now it’s all over the interweb . . . there’s a Disneyland copycat park in Beijing called Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park, and it’s got the world in a flurry over copyright violations.From The Standard:

With its slogan “Disneyland is too far,” Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella’s Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters.None of this is authorized by Disney – but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.

The United States announced Monday it would file a case at the World Trade Organization over rampant copyright piracy in China, a practice which US companies say deprives them of billions of dollars each year.

Associated Content (The People’s Media Company) also has the story. Slashdot has great commentary per usual. Best of all, though, is the official site of Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park, complete with Happy Tour!

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