Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Zazzle Update

Well, I got a reply from Zazzle. It was actually sent out on Thursday, but it got caught in my spam filter.

Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you.

Public Product Inquiry: 235188030175401790

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email(Mike) - 06/14/2012 02:58 PM
Hello Zazzler,

Thank you for being a Seller at!

We would love to offer every design that our users submit, however we must abide by all applicable laws and standards as well as our own content guidelines and copyright policies.

Unfortunately, your product was removed due to an infringement claim by Warner Bros. Studios.  While the artwork as you claim is original, the characters from the Wizard of Oz are currently property of Warner Bros.  As a guideline, designs from the Wizard of Oz that are currently prohibited for sale on Zazzle’s Marketplace are:

    •All inspired artwork and character renderings from the Wizard of Oz
    •Quotes from the Wizard of Oz Franchise
    •All tags and descriptions that reference the Wizard of Oz

Thank you for cooperation in this matter.  We hope that we can work together in providing our customers with one-of-a kind merchandise that can only be found Zazzle!

Best Regards,
Content Management Team
Zazzle, Inc.

I sat on that for a while. I wasn't sure if I would get anywhere if I pressed the matter further. And in either case, it was WB's fault for filing a spurious complaint. Just as my plan was brewing to petition Warner Brothers to stop harassing  Oz fans, I saw that the guys who are working on a new film adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had some luck getting their harassment cleared up. So I composed this little beauty:

As I'm sure several of my Oz brethren have explained at length, WB's copyright claims are too broad to be truly defensible. Most of the others affected by the takedown requests have been able to claim that the images on their products adhered fairly strictly to the public domain sources. My case is a little bit different. As you acknowledged in your previous email, the image that spawned my complaint is original work. So my argument is that the image is not only based on public domain sources, but also sufficiently original that WB has no claim on it.

The original image is still in my collection on Zazzle, but here's a copy for handy reference.

Let's go character by character, starting with Dorothy.

The main things that my Dorothy shares with the Dorothy that WB has copyrighted are the brown hair and the blue and white checkered dress. Both of these traits were first drawn by W.W. Denslow in 1900, putting them firmly within the public domain.

The main difference between the two characters in their shoes. My image gives her silver shoes, as she wore in public domain sources, while WB's Dorothy rather famously wears Ruby Slippers. My Dorothy is also clearly pre-pubescent, while Judy Garland can't fully hide that she was a teenager when she made that movie. Also, Judy wore her hair in pigtails, while mine has a single loose ponytail behind her.

My Cowardly Lion is notably non-anthropomorphic (meaning: he doesn't look like a guy in a lion suit) as in public domain sources. Although the public domain illustrations give him an oversized head and expressive face, mine looks very close to an actual lion. If there's a copyright violation here, it should come from National Geographic.

The Scarecrow has a painted face, lacking the level of detail and texture of the main human character in the image (Dorothy), while WB's Scarecrow is a man in very well done makeup. The fact that his hat is yellow is a minor detail, but small differences accumulate.

The Tin Woodman's head retains the skull-like aspect of W.W. Denslow's original depiction. The funnel hat was also originated by Denslow. His proportions are not upscaled to allow a human actor to occupy the tin suit (as in WB's copyrighted work), but are roughly human. His tin torso is even textured with the collar and buttons of a workshirt and he seems to have a belt around his waist. Public domain illustrations of the Tin Woodman feature him with clothing details worked into his body (typically a bow tie and lapels), while WB's copyrighted Tin Woodman has no clothing details.

There you have it. Clearly inspired by public domain sources, clearly original, and clearly free of WB copyright.


librarian said...

What do you actually think will happen?

F. Douglas Wall said...

Well, I'll tell you what actually happened: They investigated the case (along with a number of others) and determined that I was in the right.

librarian said...

Nice - way to fight the good fight!

saintfighteraqua said...

WB is not only greedy, it's also pretty darn stupid.
I bet that most of it's people out attacking Oz fans are unaware that there even are Oz books.
I'm so glad you won this.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...