Monday, June 18, 2012

An Open Letter To Warner Brothers

UPDATE: 6/22/2012 - It appears the issue was a misunderstanding of Warner Brothers' request by Zazzle. All people who I know were affected by this simply had to contact Zazzle, assure them that we were not infringing on Warner Brothers' rights, and our products were restored.

That being said, we still very much respect Warner Brothers' copyright of their film.
Dear Warner Brothers,

It seems Zazzle.com has removed items from the shops of myself and other creators of Oz material. This appears to be due to a request from your legal department to be on the lookout for material that may infringe on your rights as owners of the 1939 MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz.

Let me say that I am sure I can speak for the other Oz fans who have had items removed from their Zazzle shops that we fully respect your rights. We do not want to infringe on your rights, and believe that merchandise deriving from the film should be licensed by you.

This is why our items have designs derived from the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, which are in the public domain. Thus, as anyone is free to merchandise the characters from these books, by having our items taken down, you are, in fact, infringing on our rights. However, my income from Zazzle is so little that it is hardly worth trying to hire a lawyer to prove that we are in our rights.

Our designs feature either original artwork based on the books, or public domain artwork from the books, or completely original designs. My own were simple 3D designs using the Oz seal based on an image in the public domain Ozma of Oz, and logos for my own online endeavors, all of which were created by me using only public domain materials. None of these have designs inspired by your film, nor do they attempt to evoke the film in any way. In fact, I am displaying my designs below:



Part of the reason why we have low sales is because your film is the most iconic version of Oz and many collectors favor those interpretations of the characters. We do not blame Warner Brothers in the least for this, but it does make it clear that it does create something of a monopoly against a small selection of Oz memorabilia, one that would not be worth fighting in court.

Thus, I should like to pose a suggestion.

We understand that you have taken an interest in other Oz films being produced by other companies to ensure they are not infringing on your rights. We also understand that at one point, you were interested in creating a new Oz film, which would likely ensure your dominance in the marketplace for Oz collectibles, and thus you want to be sure that these companies are not taking away from material you have rights to without due compensation.

Would it be at all possible to have our work "white-listed" so to speak? This would simply ensure sites like Zazzle that our work is not infringing on your property. In fact, I used Zazzle after having my work removed by SpreadShirt.com, despite them having products using artwork clearly based on your film.

We understand you are preparing another wave of merchandising for the upcoming 75th anniversary of your film, and do not intend to compete with this. As I have stated, general familiarity with your property will ensure more sales for you, and likely keep our sales low. Even last night, a family member told me she was unaware of other Oz properties outside of the MGM film. Our work simply caters to the fans of the original books who are a very niche market, and our low prices and non-limited availability will allow our few customers plenty of opportunity to also purchase any merchandise they desire that you produce or license.

We look forward to and hope to help support Warner Brothers as you enter another period of merchandising the MGM film The Wizard of Oz. We would rather enter it as friends rather than feeling sour towards you for limiting what we may do with material we freely have rights to, which I can only hope was a misunderstanding.

Yours sincerely, Jared Davis

2 comments:

F. Douglas Wall said...

What I'd like to see is an explicit list of non-infringing uses. While it's not hard to figure out that Ruby Slippers are owned by WB while Silver Shoes are not, that didn't seem to be enough in my case.

I'm contemplating a petition over at Change.org.

Sam A M said...

YEEAAH!!

That's telling them, Jared!