For almost a century, children all over the world have gone on adventures into the Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie-The-Pooh and his friends.
The creation by the English author A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh and his friends have also been immortalised on the big screen by Disney with mulitple films including a 2018 live-action adaptation.
However, an upcoming movie will see Winnie-The-Pooh and his friend Piglet turn into murderers after being abandoned by their human friend Christopher Robin.
The upcoming slasher film, "Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey" is a reimagining of the beloved character which has been made possible by Milne's 1926 book 'Winnie-the-Pooh" entering the public domain.
What Does 'Public Domain' Mean?
'Public Domain' refers to creative material such as art, literature, music and film which are not bound by any intellectual property law.
By virtue of being created before intellectual property rights came into existence, the works of writers like Kalidasa, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, William Shakespeare and music composed by Tyagaraja, Mozart and Beethoven fall into the public domain.
Many countries have different copyright and intellectual property laws. In India, copyright lasts for 60 after the death of the author or 60 after the publication of the work.
Comic creator Stephen Slesinger bought the merchandising, television and recording rights for Winnie-The-Pooh from Milne in 1930.
Slesinger introduced the iconic red-shirt wearing iteration of Pooh bear in 1932. After his death, Slesinger's widow licensed the rights to Milne's creation to Walt Disney Productions in 1961 which began Disney's monopoly over the beloved character.
In 1998, the US passed the Copyright Term Extension Act which extended copyright terms for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever end is earlier.
What Does This Mean For Winnie-The-Pooh?
Under US law, all of Milne's characters which appeared in his first book "Winnie-the-Pooh", are in the public domain. However, since the bouncy-tailed Tigger only made his debut in the 1928 sequel 'The House at Pooh Corner', it will only fall in the public domain in 2024.
However, Disney still owns the copyright to the red-shirt iteration of Pooh bear as well as the unhyphenated "Winnie the Pooh" name.
This means that any individual or corporation can publish or create movies, films and books featuring the characters from Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" as long as they don't run foul of Disney's copyrights.
Other books which will enter the public domain in 2022 are Ernest Hemingway's 'The Sun Also Rises', Langston Hughes' 'The Weary Blues' and Felix Salten's 'Bambi, A Life in the Woods'.
Also entering the public domain are films such as Buster Keaton's 'Battling Butler' and F. W. Murnau's 'Faust'.