January 1, 2003
Here on his weblog, Lessig unearths a great illustration of how the entertainment industry’s legal overreach has impoverished the rest of us. The whole post deserves to be read and disseminated:
So I’ve been telling this story about the birth of Mickey Mouse for some time now. See, e.g., my OSCON speech. The story goes like this: Walt Disney was a great creator in the tradition of great creativity: his creativity was to rip, mix, and burn popular culture. Even Mickey Mouse, who was born as Steamboat Willie (released in 1928), was a rip, mix, and burn take-off on Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill (released in 1928).[12:00 PM]
But I hadn’t realized just how true that was until I opened my very cool set of Disney “Treasures”—a special DVD release of the early black and white Mickey Mouse films that Disney is now selling (comes in a cool tin case, with a serial number pressed into the tin). The DVD is a great collection of the early cartoons, with some “bonus” features including the script for Steamboat Willie. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of the script. Notice the direction from Walt: “Orchestra starts playing opening verses of ‘Steamboat Bill.’” Try doing a cartoon take-off of one of Disney, Inc.’s latest films with an opening that copies the music, and see how far your Walt Empire gets.