Bad news for big "Pooh" fan Loomis I would imagine!
It is indeed, 2099! As much as I love the original Milne books and illustrations, the Dinseyfied Pooh and Sterling Holloway/Jim Cummings voice always makes me smile.
As far as I understand the conflict (Loomis switches into his legal student mode - on his day off too!
): I've been following this for a while...
The woman that Disney now has the agreement with is Clare Milne.
AA Milne originally licensed the Pooh characters to his literary agent, Stephen Slesinger, in the 1930s. Slesinger in turn licensed the characters to Disney in 1961. In 1983 a new commercial agreement was drawn up between Disney and the heirs of both AA Milne and Slesinger, who was the successor to the family that had an exclusive licencing agreement with Disney.
Now the judge has ruled that Clare Milne is no longer capable of assigning the rights to anyone (she suffers from cerebral palsy), as per US law. She WOULD have reassigned the rights to Disney if she had been allowed, who would have given millions of dollars to a charitable trust in her name.
Now, I'm not too sure on the workings of the American legal system (it is slightly different to ours, which is more like the UK law), but essentially this has given more footing to the legal claim of the Slesingers (which would have been frustrated had Clare Milne won), who are also claiming millions of dollars in unpaid royalties (I think Disney was claiming that video/DVD does not consititute merchandise from memory...
So basically, the Slesingers are now claiming about $700m in damages. Disney also stands to lose the rights, which counts for about $3-6 billion (!) of their $25 bn annual profits.
Dark days indeed!
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