Who Owns Pooh?

Disney fights in court over digital rights to a silly old bear as new technology casts doubt on old contracts

As if it didn't have enough problems with a soft ad market and a sinking stock price, the Walt Disney Co. has revealed to shareholders that it may owe several hundred million dollars because of a silly old bear. In 1961 Disney licensed certain rights to the character of Winnie-the-Pooh from literary agent Stephen Slesinger, who had acquired U.S. merchandising rights from A.A. Milne, author of the books featuring Pooh and Christopher Robin. That contract made no mention of videotapes, computer games or DVDs--because such uses either didn't exist or weren't widespread when the deal was made.

Now, though, Disney's sales...

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