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[P]
Who owns your folklore?

By ubernostrum in MLP
Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 04:02:01 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

The government of Romania had a brilliant idea for bolstering the economy and bringing money and jobs to the country - a Dracula-themed amusement park. They just missed one thing: Hollywood owns Dracula.


According to the BBC, Romania's government was planning to capitalize on being the home of the "real" Dracula - whose castle draws 250,000 tourists a year - in order to boost the national economy, but Universal Studios owns the rights to the "image" of Dracula that we are familiar with - the pale, debonair bloodsucker we all know and love. So the government will have to pay up to get Universal's permission to build a theme park using the "familiar" concept of Dracula.

Ordinarily I wouldn't post yet another intellectual-property story, but it's been a while since we had a good one and it's a good break from the WTC-related stuff. On top of that, this is an unusual but interesting example of one of the problems of our current intellectual-property system; "Dracula" is a part of the local folklore and culture - Bram Stoker's book popularized him, but it's been a century or so since he wrote it, so the whole thing should be about as public-domain as an idea can be. But a studio in Hollywood can own the rights to the "image" of Dracula because they made a couple of movies, and leverage that into preventing the people whose story it actually is from doing things with it. One would think that in a logical world, some intellectual "property" rights would be retained by the people who originally told the stories of Vlad Tepes and grew them into a myth that people are interested in, and not just by the movie studio that made a film out of someone's book about it. But that's America, I guess.

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Who owns your folklore? | 38 comments (34 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Budweiser (3.00 / 3) (#1)
by wiredog on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:30:58 PM EST

Is a Czech beer, but they have to call it "Budvar" for copyright reasons.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
Re:Budweiser (3.33 / 3) (#5)
by truth versus death on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 09:04:49 PM EST

In other beer naming news (from this summer), a certain U.S. beer had to change its name because the U.S. government didn't like it.

Btw, I think Budvar was a trademark issue.

"any erection implies consent"-fae
[ Trim your Bush ]
[ Parent ]
Trademark issue (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by aphrael on Wed Oct 03, 2001 at 12:24:09 AM EST

as part of the complicated rules imposed as part of the peace settlement ending the first world war, all companies in Germany and the former Austro-Hungarian empire --- including the successor states of Jugoslavia and Czechoslovakia --- lost their trademark rights in the United States. :(

[ Parent ]
Re: Budweiser (none / 0) (#23)
by uweber on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 08:20:28 AM EST

I am not sure but I think the US Budwiser was founded by the original Czech company and the two got seperated when the communists took over.

[ Parent ]
re: dracula (3.80 / 5) (#2)
by odin on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 08:36:28 PM EST

So why don't they make it a "Vlad the Impaler" theme park? It would be far more interesting. I could see a Dracula theme park just being like an oversized haunted house. But to take Vlad, and mix elements of history and folklore, they might actually have something interesting.

Because Vlad was gross. (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Apuleius on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 11:41:35 PM EST

Vampires are debonair creatures who defy the constraints most of us have in our bourgeois existence, thus giving us escape. Vlad the Impaler was just disgusting.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
disgusting? (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by crazycanuck on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 07:16:49 PM EST

why was he disgusting?
He was no different than other rulers back then. Everyone was disgusting , then.
He was effective. Romania was always in a strategic place, geographically, and we were constantly attacked by various empires (russian, austro-hungarian, ottoman)
At least he was fighting for his people.

[ Parent ]
Impaling was a disgusting even then. (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by Apuleius on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 09:55:47 PM EST

But that's beside the point. Stoker's Dracula is a useful marketing tool for bringing tourists to Romania. The real-life Dracula is not, because by our standards he was simply disgusting.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
Heeheee.... (none / 0) (#37)
by Ialdabaoth on Wed Oct 03, 2001 at 01:27:11 PM EST

I heard there was a porn starring a guy named "Vlad the Impaler". Sounds like a refugee from that "goatsex" site...
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley
[ Parent ]

Too Many Damn Vampires (4.80 / 5) (#6)
by SPrintF on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 09:09:17 PM EST

While it is certainly true that Universal holds the rights to their depiction of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi or John Carradine, a quick scan of the movie database finds Christopher Lee, Frank Langella, Hamilton Camp (good heavens!), Duncan Regehr (a personal favorite) and Louis Jourdan (another favorite), among many, many others portraying the sanquinary Count for many different studios.

So, the suggestion that Universal can demand "blood money" (heh) for any portrayal of the Count is certainly wrong, and I doubt that Universal expects it. But they are entitled to control how images from their specific properties are used.

A better claimant would, of course, be the estate of Bram Stoker, who was responsible for creating the Count from historical and mythological elements. (And who was ripped off by certain movie makers.)

Dracula is public domain (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by BlckKnght on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 02:06:02 AM EST

Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was published in 1897, so his estate has no copyright on it now. Back in 1922 (the publication date of Nosferatu), as you point out, it was another matter.

The fact htat Dracula is public domain is one of the reasons so many movies have been based on it.Isn't the public domain wonderful.

Corperations "owning" material in the public domain is nothing new of course. How far do you think I'd get trying to market a animated movie of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

-- 
Error: .signature: No such file or directory


[ Parent ]
US copyright law vs. EU copyright law (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by pin0cchio on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 09:23:50 AM EST

Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was published in 1897, so his estate has no copyright on it now. Back in 1922 (the publication date of Nosferatu), as you point out, it was another matter.

All of Bram Stoker's (1847-1912) work is in the public domain. In countries with EU style copyright law (life plus 70), Dracula has been PD since at least December 31, 1987. In countries with Sonny Bono copyright (flat 95-year copyright on works created before about 1978 and EU style copyright on newer works) such as USA, 1921 copyrights expired on Dec 31, 1977, 1922 copyrights didn't expire until Dec 31, 1997 (due to a 19-year extension granted in 1978), and 1923 copyrights will never expire (due to a 20-year extension granted every 20 years starting in 1998).

Don't you think life + 70 is a harsh sentence for would-be copyright infringers?


lj65
[ Parent ]
Eh, not really (2.12 / 8) (#8)
by quartz on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 09:34:41 PM EST

Sorry to burst your bubble dude, but Dracula is *not* part of the local culture. Also, Hollywood has every right to Dracula's image because they *invented* the damn character. The local image of Dracula doesn't look anything like the one you're familiar with (chack this out for a biography of the real character).

I appreciate your efforts to get a "good IP story", but this is not it.



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
Wrong (4.57 / 7) (#9)
by rusty on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:09:39 PM EST

That's what I thought too, but your own link disproves it. From the bio:
"Dracul," in Romanian language, means "Dragon", and the boyars of Romania, who knew of Vlad Tepes' father induction into the Order of the Dragon, decided to call him "Dracul." "Dracula," a diminutive which means "the son of Dracul," was a surname to be used ultimately by Vlad Tepes.
So, he really was called "Dracula."
A second major role of this Order as a source of inspiration for Stoker's evil character is the Order's official dress - a black cape over a red garment - to be worn only on Fridays or during the commemoration of Christ's Passion.
Ok, creepy black cape, check.
In order to secure his second and major reign over Wallachia, Dracula had to wait until July of 1456, when he had the satisfaction of killing his mortal enemy and his father's assassin. Vlad then began his longest reign - 6 years - during which he committed many cruelties, and hence established his controversed [sic] reputation... Vlad became quite known for his brutal punishment techniques; he often ordered people to be skinned, boiled, decapitated, blinded, strangled, hanged, burned, roasted, hacked, nailed, buried alive, stabbed, etc. He also liked to cut off noses, ears, sexual organs and limbs. But his favorite method was impalement on stakes, hence the surname "Tepes" which means "The Impaler" in the Romanian language.
Hmmm, inhuman cruelty and fondness for torture. Yep, got that too.

I thought the same thing you did, and some very quick research showed me that the novel is in fact based largely on an actual historical figure. The plot, obviously, was invented by Stoker, and the vampire legends assumed to be true for the novel (which they probably weren't), but Dracula himself is definitely not a fictional invention.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Not at all. (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by quartz on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:52:02 PM EST

You conveniently omitted one thing: the local Dracula character IS NOT A VAMPIRE. Never was. Somehow, I don't think Hollywood wants the romanian government to pay for using the image of a "inhuman cruel guy in a black cape". They want royalties for the SPECIFIC image of the VAMPIRE which is their creation - hence the paragraph about "the teeth" in the original story. And they're right - anyone who uses their creation to make money should pay for the privilege. Now, I don't think anybody would have any objections if the Romanian government made a Dracula theme park using the ACTUAL image of the historic character, even if they use the name "Dracula". The name is not the issue here - as the BBC story states very clearly: Hollywood has a problem with the IMAGE of the character, not with its name. They probably know that if they tried to make any claims about the name, the Romanian government would show them a couple of original documents dated 1450 and tell them to go fsck themselves. (Even though, technically speaking, there was no Romania in 1450, but that's not the issue here)

But hell, what do I know? I was only born in Romania and lived there for 20 years, it's not like I know anything about the local culture. Don't let that stand in the way of your holy crusade against the Evil Empire of Intellectual Property.

As an aside, it's funny as shit to watch my posts about Romanian culture rated down by people who probably have never been to Romania. I guess someone should read the rating FAQ again, especially the section about how you're not supposed to rate based on emotional disagreement.:-)



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
Rating... (4.66 / 3) (#15)
by rusty on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 11:10:45 PM EST

I think the low rating was based on the fact that a casual read-through of your own link seemed to disprove your argument.

What I've read says that the whole "vampire" thing was tacked on later, in some tales, usually by people with political reasons to dislike ol' Vlad (like, he killed their entire extended family). Besides which, many facets of the Hollywood Vampire myth do also come from Eastern European folklore.

Anyway, my point was that it seems that there's by far enough historical fact in the Dracula folklore for Romania to tell Hollywood to take a flying leap, not the least of which is the fact that the name Dracula refers to a historical figure, and really can't be copyrighted. What's going to happen, Universal Pictures invades Romania?

About living there and whatnot, I'm glad you can speak with some authority on the matter. You ought to have mentioned that in the first place, if you're now going to bring it up now as a reason you should be listened to. The first comment was an opinion and a link to some guy's AOL page. If you have actual experience, for God's sake, toot that horn right up front! How were we supposed to know that?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Hollywood and Romania (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by quartz on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 11:59:04 PM EST

Heh. Sorry about the first comment. I just thought the image link was enough to show that the local Dracula was nothing like the one copyrighted by Hollywood.



Anyway, my point was that it seems that there's by far enough historical fact in the Dracula folklore for Romania to tell Hollywood to take a flying leap, not the least of which is the fact that the name Dracula refers to a historical figure, and really can't be copyrighted. What's going to happen, Universal Pictures invades Romania?

Actually, the Romanian government can't even *dream* of telling Hollywood to take a hike. Hollywood won't need to lift a finger to get whatever they want from them. The sad situation is that Romania is a piss poor country whose government can't afford to upset an American corporation. Romania's economy relies entirely on foreign investments to eventually drag itself out of poverty and right now they're especially trying to attract American corporations; upsetting Hollywood would be very bad PR. Besides, they'd get in trouble with their own people - back there people really *like* big corporations. They view corporations and foreign investors as the "saviours" who will rescue their economy from the imminent collapse to which it has been brought by an incompetent government. You should have been there when the first McDonalds opened in Romania. It was like the second fskin' National Day, with news coverage across the spectrum and people fighting to get a job at McD's for the high pay(!) and the prestige. :-/



--
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
I see (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by rusty on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 11:29:59 AM EST

Well, if that's the case, maybe Romania will end up inviting Universal to set up an operate the theme park itself, in hopes that tourist dollars and tax money will do the trick...?

Random aside, a good friend of mine just spent two years in Romania as a Peace Corps volunteer, and tells vivid stories of neighbors roasting pigs with a blowtorch on the front steps of her apartment building. That has nothing to do with this story, really, but the image of a pig being roasted with a blowtorch is now indelibly linked to Romania in my mind.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

the economy in romania (none / 0) (#30)
by crazycanuck on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 07:14:45 PM EST

the incompetent (incompetent?? they're very competent! at filling their own pockets, that is. you mean corrupt government..) government is just one side of the problem. the country was destroyed by 40-something years of communism. The country is filled with corruption right now. As long as their mentality doesn't change, nothing will change.

[ Parent ]
Intellectual property is theft .. (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by Eloquence on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 07:17:11 AM EST

They want royalties for the SPECIFIC image of the VAMPIRE which is their creation -

I think that even by a very daring interpretation of copyright law (as in "parody of Gone With the Wind should be illegal"), the differences between the "image" as portrayed in the vampire book which is in the public domain and the "specific image" derived from it are not even remotely significant enough (did the book mention the cape?) to deserve exclusive protection. Even if the theme park used direct screenshots from Hollywood movies, which might be interpreted as a copyright violation, the move was in extremely bad taste, and shows once again that Hollywood is controlled by lifeless bloodsuckers.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#21)
by the lizard on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 05:29:38 AM EST

"Dracul" means in Romanian "The Devil" :))

[ Parent ]
Six of one... (none / 0) (#28)
by Macrobat on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 03:58:40 PM EST

"Dragon" and "Devil" were synonymous in many medieval cultures. FYI.

"Hardly used" will not fetch a better price for your brain.
[ Parent ]

Oh, I see... (none / 0) (#34)
by the lizard on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 04:49:11 AM EST

anyway, I don't think that somebody had the guts to call him "Dracul" at that time :))

[ Parent ]
I visited Dracula's castle... (4.20 / 5) (#12)
by chipuni on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:21:57 PM EST

Sorry to burst your bubble dud, but Dracula is part of the local culture. I visited Vlad the Impaler's castle when I was in Romania in 1985. They certainly knew that Vlad was the original Dracula.

You gave an excellent link about Vlad's life. Another one can be found here.
--
Perfection is not reached when nothing more can be added, but only when nothing more can be taken away.
Wisdom for short attention spans.
[ Parent ]

Somebody missed a lawsuit opportunity... (4.66 / 6) (#13)
by kaemaril on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:50:52 PM EST

Also, Hollywood has every right to Dracula's image because they *invented* the damn character.

They did? Gee, I wonder why they didn't sue Bram Stoker when he stole their IP to write that book of his? Damn plagiarist :)


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Bram Stoker, an Irishman, came up with Dracula (4.20 / 5) (#18)
by HereticMessiah on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 12:52:47 AM EST

Dracula was created by Bram Stoker, not Hollywood. It was `inspired' by the legend of Vlad the Impaler. Hollywood most definitely didn't invent the character.

--
Disagree with me? Post a reply.
Think my post's poor or trolling? Rate me down.
[ Parent ]
Mtv (2.50 / 2) (#10)
by rusty on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:11:13 PM EST

Mtv and Michael Jackson own my folklore. That's just the American Way.

____
Not the real rusty
Interesting... but... (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by Neuromancer on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 10:16:43 PM EST

Classically, Vampires are known to look healthier than their living counterparts, aside from being dead. A LOT of what Hollywood as given us is just that, Hollywood. Stakes aren't used to kill vampires, just to pin them to their coffins. Classical vampire slayings are performed differently.

However, this is interesting in that there is perhaps SOME fair use. I mean, Vlad the Impaler was from Transylvania, not Hollywood. I would feel kinda odd of George Washington became really popular in a foriegn land and they tried to enforce a copyright against his image.

Also, what of all of the companies that have used the name and image? Certainly MOST have not applied to Universal for rights!

Myths... (none / 0) (#25)
by drivers on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 11:28:08 AM EST

But... you are aware that vampires are just myths, and that killing them with stakes is just as correct as your interpretation, right?


[ Parent ]
Right... but (none / 0) (#27)
by Neuromancer on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 11:42:37 AM EST

Right, but when people in Transylvania were talking about a vampire, they meant a healthy corpse that they would probably horribly mutilate to ensure that it would not keep going.

[ Parent ]
There's no Dracula in Romania (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by crazycanuck on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 07:11:57 PM EST

It is not part of the local culture.
It's a stupid hollywood invention.
This is very annoying to us (Romanians).
Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler in english) was a romanian ruler that was very strict and ruthless. He would impale criminals and Romania's enemies (the Turks). During his rule it is said that you could leave a bag of gold coins on the side of the road, and still find it there in the morning.
Because of this ruthless behaviour, some stupid irishman wrote the dracula story and claimed he was a vampire.
"Dracul" in romanian does NOT mean dragon. "Drac" means "devil" (you know, the one with horns and a tail?) and "dracul" means "the devil".

Maybe Fox would be more amenable (none / 0) (#33)
by Ludwig on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 03:56:04 AM EST

I can think of at least one far more entertaining Transylvanian to base a theme park on.

Vampires, burial, death (none / 0) (#35)
by dbc001 on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 02:57:56 PM EST

I read this book a while back:
Vampires, Burial, & Death (pretty interesting stuff)

I don't remember if it was in Romania or not, but if I remember correctly there are several different vampire mythologies with distinctly different properties. The modern (hollywood-ized) vampire mythology takes bits from all of them, and adds some extra crap for flavor. I think the Romanian government should just say "Fsck you Hollywood" and simply refuse to go to court. Also, someone else pointed out that they probably havent sued everyone who ever made a dracula movie. Doesnt that count as diluting the trademark or something?

This seems to me like the makers of Indepence Day saying that someone cant use "their image" of the American President. I say fsck 'em, Dracula can be whoever they want him to be whether he is from Romania or not.

So what? (none / 0) (#38)
by Ialdabaoth on Wed Oct 03, 2001 at 01:29:50 PM EST

Dracula's kinda overrated anyway? What did he really do throughout most of the Stoker novel? Not a hell of a lot; he was offstage for about two thirds of the story. If you want good vampires, read Anne Rice. The Vampire Lestat is much better than Dracula.
*******
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

Who owns your folklore? | 38 comments (34 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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