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Behind the curtain of 'Oz' looms a complex copyright battle

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oz 2013 (disney)
oz 2013 (disney)

Oz the Great and Powerful may not have received the glowing reviews director Sam Raimi was hoping for, but the remake has at least succeeded in sparking a copyright dispute between Disney and Warner Bros. As Luke Buckmaster explains in a piece for Crikey, the issue stems from the fact that Frank Baum's original book, written in 1900, is under public domain, while Warner Bros' 1939 film adaptation is not. This means that the book's central characters are free of copyright, but qualities unique to the film itself — red shoes, hairstyles, or even specific shades of green — are under Warner Bros' control.

"In the context of an escapist fantasy intended to transport viewers to a rainbow coloured parallel dream world, this is the ultimate reality check," Buckmaster writes. "No matter how many times Dorothy clicks her heels, she’d better be certain that 'there’s no place like home' doesn’t have a TM looming after it."