Making a Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) style dress

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Mrsvintage
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Making a Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) style dress

Post by Mrsvintage »

Hi,

I am in my first year of running a business selling handmade childrenswear and in the space of a few days have had two customers approach me about separate commissions that I would just like to check the legalities on.

The first I have posted a separate question on already but the second was asked tonight and it was a request for a Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) inspired dress for her little girls birthday.

Would there be any reason why I could not do this for her? I have tried to Google but to no avail unfortunately.

If I was to do it, it would be primarily be a blue, checked dress with a white blouse underneath. Alone, I'm sure that wouldn't be an issue as it is pretty generic but I'm wondering if I would need to leave out any suggestion at all that it is inspired by Dorothy when I post photos on social media for example? Or if I have to say to the customer "I can make a blue checked dress and white shirt, but it cannot be based on Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz" just in case it is seen as copying?

Help!

Thank you so much!
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AndyJ
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Re: Making a Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) style dress

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again Mrsvintage,

You can go ahead with a Dorothy costume without any concern.

The film was made in 1939 at a time when in the UK copyright in films per se did not exist in law. Instead copyright applied to the separate elements, for instance, each each frame of the film was treated as a photograph, the sound track was a sound recording similar to a record, and the script was deemed a dramatic work. At that time copyright in photographs only lasted for 50 years, and so in the UK the main part of the film Wizard of Oz, the images and sound track, ceased to be in copyright on 1 January 1990. Add to that the fact that in the UK it is highly unlikely that the costumes would have been eligible for copyright in the first place, and you are on very safe ground, even if you wanted to use Dorothy's name with the dress.

The situation in the USA where the film was made is much more complicated due to the copyright regime there at the time, but suffice it to say, we can be pretty confident that copyright in the original film also ceased there some years ago. There have been several re-releases of the film in different formats (such as different colour palettes etc) in an effort to re-activate copyright, but since the dress itself didn't change in these newer versions, even if copyright may have once existed in the dress in the USA, that has lapsed.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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