Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel’s most popular poets, died in 2000, but his continuing reputation doesn’t just encompass poetry. The Poetry Foundation, the Chicago-based publisher of Poetry magazine, premiered their broadcast of Amichai’s “Killing Him,” a light satire about a bad poet, at the recent Printers’ Ball, a gathering of literary folks held each year in the Windy City. It’s now available to the public on the Poetry Foundation side, as a mp3.
Creators of satirical content, and those of us who write about or collect popular culture, know that Disney has an iron grip on their copyrights. Really, it’s pretty common knowledge now. They’ve been known to go after day care facilities and other small potato businesses, claiming copyright infringement because of amateurish murals or drawings, or even a hint of the “mouse ears”. In a more recent case, they threatened to sue a stonemason who was building a stillborn’s tombstone with Winnie the Pooh’s face, after Disney had already turned down the family’s heartfelt request.
Now, the LA Times writes, there’s some evidence that Walt Disney’s most important creation may not belong to the Disney company.
When I first started this company, I was living in an apartment within walking distance of the Mouse – as people call it in Los Angeles. My landlady was a former accountant for the company, knew I was a writer, and basically warned me not to even think of working for them. I’d heard about their legendary thriftiness, but didn’t want to believe it was that bad.
Six years later, it seems that the critical accounts available even then, on websites like MiceAge.com and MousePlanet.com, weren’t overreacting – Disney has been going downhill, and not just in keeping their theme parks up to date, or making sure they were developing and producing good movies.
Their copyright champion in Congress was the late Sonny Bono (kind of makes his role in Hairspray redundant, doesn’t it?) but he’s gone now. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who along with creative personnel, deserves the credit for the renaissance in Disney’s traditional animation during the 1990s, was treated very poorly by the company… and has made Dreamworks SKG a great success. Since Disney’s pockets are plenty deep, it would have to be an equally powerful and stubborn person (Katzenberg?) to test whether “Steamboat Willie” really is a public domain kind of guy.