Save the Bolton Six; Obama chooses Creative Commons

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to court we go

Bad news from Bolton. The Bolton News reports that the six of seven dwarves in Bolton’s festive production of Snow White will not be named Doc, Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy and Bashful after Disney asserted its copyright in the names. Although the story of Snow White was first ‘codified’ in the 19th Century by the Brothers Grimm, the dwarves were first given their names in Disney’s 1937 film. The show will go on though, and the Bolton Six will be known as Goody, Loopy, Lazy, Growler, Noisy and Shabby. Sneezy’s name, for reasons that the story doesn’t elaborate on, will retain his moniker.

The IPKat is puzzled. Since when were names protected by copyright? At best characters may perhaps have some protection (but probably not) and from the new names, it looks like the characters may be broadly the same.

Obama and Creative Commons

CNET reports that the website of US President Elect Barak Obama is now licenced under a Creative Commons Licence. The version chosen and displayed on allows users to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, and to make derrivative works, as long as the source is attributed.

The IPKat cautions that this may not be a reliable indicator of Obama’s overall copyright policy. After all, politicians want their official ‘message’ to be distributed as widely as possible. This may not be true of their views on their other works, and the works of others.
Save the Bolton Six; Obama chooses Creative Commons Save the Bolton Six; Obama chooses Creative Commons Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 02, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Presumably Disney's argument is that the names taken as a whole amount to a copyright work. This may be why Sneezy made the cut: just one name was not enough to attract copyright on its own, and wasn't a "substantial part" of the overall work.

    Though probably more pertinent was the theatre company deciding, upon receiving a "cease and desist" from Disney's lawyers, that they had better things to do with their money than spend it trying to Mess With The Mouse...

  2. The Tolkien estate has had success in the US in preventing companies making role-playing game products from using the names of creatures found in Tolkien's works.

    For instance, TSR, the makers of "Dungons and Dragons" had to stop calling "Hobbits" that, and call them "halflings" instead (ironically, a term also used in the Lord of the Rings for Hobbits...), and likewise "Ents" (the walking trees) are now called "Treants" in D&D.

    On what grounds is unclear.

    Regards, Luke

  3. Really strange yes this Bolton news... Just wondered -- I haven't checked but don't they have a TM rather than copyright in the names? Maybe there was a mistake in the story you fished. In my experience, journalists and more generally, non-savvy ip people often make such confusions between the different ip rights. If there was no mistake, then I am really baffled. I don't see how Disney could assert any right in the country in the names (apart from maybe passing off).

    Estelle Derclaye

  4. A check on the UK IPO site shows that Disney has a pending application, E 5619911, to register GRUMPY in a number of classes as a Community Trade Mark. There is no sign of their trying to register the other six names although most (not dopey)are already registered by others for unrelated goods or services. The press regularly confuse trade marks and copyright and should never be considered a credible source of IP related news.


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