Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mickey Mouse Goes to Romania

Dear Rich: I am from Romania. I am writing you because I'm interested in the Mickey Mouse costume mascot, but I don't know exacly if is legal to wear it in the public areas to make money, for example as a street performer. As a street performer, you are not allowed to ask people for money, they give you money only if they want to. As you probably know Disney takes the Romanian market seriously; it's developed a Romanian Disney channel (yes you can watch Hannah Montana in Bucharest), has strong film distribution there and is exploiting all of Europe for consumer products. The Dear Rich Staff isn't familiar with Romanian copyright and trademark law, but we know that since 1989, the country has worked towards harmonizing its  laws in order to participate in intellectual property treaties. These treaties are what make it possible for Mickey and Friends to enforce rights globally. So, we're going to conclude that if Disney cares about Romanian street performers -- and we're not sure they do -- they would be entitled to stop anyone using Mickey's image for commercial purposes whether in Timişoara or Constanţa. The fact that the performers don't solicit money probably doesn't make much difference because the goal in either case is to cash in on Mickey.