Using quotes or poems from Winnie the Pooh

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Using quotes or poems from Winnie the Pooh

Post by woodman-46 »

I sell old prints (originals not copies) and I want to find out where I stand as far as selling them with a poem or quote from Winnie the Pooh attached to them.
I can understand that images are under copyright but are poems or quotes ?
I would be in effect retyping the words (not scanning or photocopying) with no changes and putting them in a window next to the print.
Can anyone enlighten me about this.
Thanks in advance James
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Post by AndyJ »

Hi James,
As far as the prints are concerned, as long as you are selling the originals and not copying them then there are no copyright implications.
However the Winnie the Pooh poems are still in copyright as AA Milne only died in 1956 (and so copyright in his works continues until 1 January 2027). Add to this the fact that the rights to many of his books are now owned by the Disney Corporation, and you do not have much leeway for using extracts of the poems without being challenged.
None of the normal exceptions under the fair dealing rules (such as news reporting, criticism, private study etc) apply here, and so the only other way would be to quote an insubtantial part of a poem. This is fraught with difficulty because substantiality is normally judged on whether what is quoted represents the essence or spirit of the work from which it is taken. Almost be definition if you wish to use quotes which are recognisably from Winnie the Pooh, then chances are that you will have used a substantial part.
If this idea is vital to your business plan, then you might be better to seek a licence from the rights owner. The alternative might be OK or it might involve you in some stressful litigation, or at the very least a cease and desist letter.
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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