Blame It On Steinski


The Day ASCAP threatened to sue the Girl Scouts for singing around the campfire; Barbie’s hooker origins; and other true tales of copyright.

The Day ASCAP threatened to sue the Girl Scouts for singing around the campfire; Barbie's hooker origins; and other true tales of copyright.I haven’t read the book Brand Name Bullies yet, but based on these excerpts, you know I will.

“In 1996, ASCAP decided that that since hotels, restaurants, funeral homes and resorts pay for the right to “perform” recorded music, and since many summer camps resemble resorts, why shouldn’t they pay too? Under copyright law, a public performance occurs “where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” Like a summer camp.

“After reportedly opening its negotiations with the American Camping Association with an offer of $1,200 per season per camp, ASCAP eventually settled on an average annual fee of $257. But once ASCAP’s plan went public, and people learned that the Girl Scouts were among the 288 camps being dunned, the group beat a hasty and embarrassed retreat.”

“Mattel’s protests about unsavory depictions of Barbie are hilariously ironic given the doll’s origins in the 1950s as a German “street walker” doll, “Lilli,” an adult novelty gift and collector’s item, which itself was inspired by a cartoon character in the newspaper Bild. Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, adapted the German doll (dare anyone say “stole”?) and transformed it into the all-American doll we all know today. Like Disney, Mattel thinks it is fine to borrow liberally from the public domain or competing products, but no one is allowed to mess with “its” product.

“Mattel is legendary for fighting unauthorized depictions of Barbie. So it comes as a surprise to learn that Barbie can trace a direct lineage to “Lilli,” a German adult novelty doll from the 1950s (pictured here) that Mattel took the liberties to adapt.”

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February 13, 2013 @ 7:20 am


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