Who Owns Anne of Green Gables?

Discuss the author's literature and life.
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asuwish
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Post by asuwish » Wed Nov 09, 2005 2:10 pm

This might be a stupid question, but can anyone else make more of the Anne series, or does Sullivan have the exclusive rights to it?

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Post by Wild Roses » Sat Nov 12, 2005 2:31 pm

asuwish wrote:This might be a stupid question, but can anyone else make more of the Anne series, or does Sullivan have the exclusive rights to it?
Well, Sullivan being who he is, wouldn't hand over the reins to anybody else to take over the series for him. (Although it does happen a lot with franchises that the original director/producer/writer will hand on the reins to someone else. Sully is just too selfish to do so.)

Someone could, however, remake the Anne books. Sullivan no longer has access to LMM's material (due to a legal fight with the heirs), and so, if someone else wanted to (re)make any of the Anne books, they could do so, once they got permission from the heirs.

However, if someone else wanted to specifically (re)make/continue Sullivan's versions, they would have to get permission from him, since Sullivan owns the copyright to his movies.

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Post by Timothy » Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:02 pm

Asuwish wrote: This might be a stupid question, but can anyone else make more of the Anne series, or does Sullivan have the exclusive rights to it?
Do you mean continue Sullivan's story or make a story consistent with the LMM works? If it's Sullivan's works then I agree with Wild Roses that permission must be granted by Sullivan, since he owns the rights. If someone wanted to make a movie based on their own version of LMM works then that's a more compex question.

Technically, anyone should be able to make a movie or produce dolls,etc. of AoGG as long as they don't violate specific trademarks such as logos or Anne-like creations outside the books; but the content in the books should be fair game. All of LMM's published works entered the public domain in 1993, 50 years after the death of LM Montgomery. However, the 'Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority' (AGGLA) has adopted the work as an 'Official Mark.' So that leads us to another question:

How can the 'Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority' have rights to the 'Anne of Green Gables' related books when these works are in the public domain?

Let's explore what all this means. Here is an excerpt from the Telemark electronic newsletter concerning 'Jurisprudence in corporate law' (emphasis mine):

Lucy Maud Montgomery was an author who is well known for her creation of "Anne of Green Gables". This character has become increasingly popular and is publicly and popularly associated with the province of Prince Edward Island.

David and Ruth Macdonald are descendants of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Since 1990, they have proceeded to register various trade-marks on the theme of "Anne of Green Gables" such as toys and doll house designs.

In 1992, the Province of Prince Edward Island ("PEI") requested the Registrar of Trade Marks to give notice of its adoption and use as official marks of nine trade-marks pertaining to "Anne of Green Gables".

In 1994, the Macdonalds entered into an agreement with PEI and Avonlea Productions Limited ("Avonlea"). This agreement, referred to as the "AGGLA Agreement", provided, among other things, for the creation of a corporation to be called "Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority". The purposes of this incorporation included various manufacturing, advertising, selling and distribution of goods and services bearing the trade marks and other symbols referring and relative to the characters, places and events described in the literary works of Lucy Maud Montgomery. Thus, Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc. ("AGGLA") was created by Letters Patent issued by the Province of Prince Edward Island on May 26, 1994. All trade-marks registered by the Macdonalds and by PEI were transferred to AGGLA. At AGGLA’s request, the Registrar of Trade Marks gave public notice of AGGLA’s adoption and use as official marks of the trade-marks that were assigned.

Sullivan Entertainment Inc. ("Sullivan") is a company incorporated under the laws of Ontario and carries on business in the film production industry. In the 1980’s Sullivan produced motion pictures and television series, "Anne of Green Gables", "Anne of Green Gables – The Sequel", and "Road to Avonlea". All are original works based on the characters and settings of the book.

Sullivan has now completed the production of "Anne of Green Gables – The Continuing Story". It is in the process of completing the animated series and planning the associated merchandising program.

Sullivan is concerned that AGGLA may take steps to disrupt the distribution of "Anne of Green Gables – The Continuing Story", the animated series and the associated merchandising program and oppose its trade-marks, thereby causing damage to Sullivan.

Sullivan alleges that AGGLA is not a public authority and is not entitled to the benefits conferred upon public authorities under Section 9(1)(iii) of the Trade Marks Act and that AGGLA has neither adopted nor used the trade marks, and that the assignment of the PEI trade marks is invalid. It has filed a motion for partial summary judgment.

The Court analyzes the issue of the validity of the assignment of the official PEI trade-marks. Unlike commercial trade-marks, official marks are not examined by the Registrar’s Office and there is no need for them to be distinctive. There is no provision in the Trade Marks Act for any party to oppose their notification. They are perpetual and there are no maintenance fees. The Court is of the opinion that the issue of assignability of an official mark is to be determined by assessing the status of the transferee. In this case, the status of AGGLA as a public authority or otherwise remains undecided.

With respect to the issue of adoption and use, the Court is of the opinion that the nature and volume of material submitted indicate that this issue should not be decided in a motion for partial summary judgment.

The Court reminds that summary judgment should only be granted when a case is so doubtful that it does not deserve consideration by the trier of facts at a future trial. The motion is dismissed.


Source: Telemark

Are the legal waters muddy enough for you? Let's look closer at this 'official mark' and try to figure out how 'official' it is. The following is from the 'Laddas and Parry' website:

Federal Court of Canada has held that Official Marks are not invulnerable, as some believed, in that they can be declared by a Court to be ineffective even though the Act does not contain any provisions for annulling the effect of these marks once notice of their adoption by a Public Authority has been published by the Registrar.

Source: Ladas.com

In sum, the courts are undecided on the issue and 'Offical Marks' can be ruled ineffective and challenged by judicial review. Sullivan alleges that the 'Official Mark' of the AGGLA is not valid and has continued to make Anne 3 and the animated Anne series. It makes me wonder why many companies are purchasing licenses post 93' from the AGGLA for use of AoGG content when others (Sullivan) dismiss the AGGLA as invalid.

One reason why the AGGLA probably hasn't brought litigation against Sullivan is that the 'Official Mark' could be subject to judicial review and could be overturned. This could set a legal precedent where post 93' companies would be under no obligation to pay licensing fees to AoGGLA (At least the companies that aren't using trademarked content).

So, someone could feasibly follow Sullivan's example and make their own version of say, a Rilla of Ingleside movie, as long as they don't violate any trademarks or other movie versions and as long as they get the right judge if they are challenged.

IMO, the rights to LMM's published works should remain in the public domain and belong to you and I, with no special Official Marks being given to selected authorities, government or otherwise.

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Post by Shelly » Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:22 pm

Not to be nitpicky, but her works of fiction entered the public domain in 1992. (She died in 1942.)
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Post by anne is best » Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:42 am

i own it. :evil:

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Post by AvonLea » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:37 pm

So can any company do that with other classics like "Little Women" and "Huckleberry Finn"?
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Post by Timothy » Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:50 am

I believe so. I checked and both those works are in the public domain.

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Post by Shelly » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:48 pm

Tim wrote:It makes me wonder why many companies are purchasing licenses post 93' from the AGGLA for use of AoGG content when others (Sullivan) dismiss the AGGLA as invalid.
Perhaps this was/is done out of respect for LMM's heirs and their wishes? Perhaps these other companies see, or saw, the AofGGLA as valid?

From the AofGGLA site...

The Anne Authority was established to protect the integrity of the images of Anne, to preserve and enhance the legacy of L.M. Montgomery and her literary works, and to control the use of Anne of Green Gables and related trademarks and official marks, including Green Gables House ("Anne" trademarks). By "images of Anne" we mean words and images depicting the fictional characters, places and events described in Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables and related novels.

But wait! The heirs themselves are incorporated with another licensing authority to cover LMM's non-Anne works (and LMM's name)! From lmmontgomery.ca...

{Heirs of L.M. Montgomery Inc.} was set up with a view to protecting the integrity of L.M. Montgomery while promoting her literary legacy. Heirs of L.M. Montgomery Inc. owns various trademarks related to the works of L.M. Montgomery (other than the Anne series), as well as the name "L.M. Montgomery". This enables the heirs to regulate the way the author's name and certain titles and other elements of her creations are used in association with products, events, and services.

This is only for commercial use, of course, which would include making your own movie or series based on LMM's books, I'd wager. Transcribing the literature and putting it online for anyone to read at no cost to the readers definitely doesn't require getting a license from the heirs, nor should it.

Footnote: In regards to LMM's journals, one'd need permission from the University of Guelph to do anything with those.
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Post by Timothy » Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:11 am

I stumbled upon this story the other day that takes a comical look at this subject. (I cut out a few paragraphs in this excerpt. For the full article, go here).

The Continuing Adventures of Private Infringer
By Darryl Moore - Chapter I

Private Infringer isn't a super hero like Captain Copyright of course. He is just a lowly private who wants to know why everybody keeps trying to tell him what to do, even in the privacy of his own home...

Rounding the corner onto his street in his busy downtown neighbourhood he saw the street vendor who often sells things in his little stall on the sidewalk. Usually the vendor sold the same old stuff, cheap electronics, cheap DVDs and CDs, and assorted nicnaks. Today some new nicnaks grabed his eye. Infringer had always been a ravenous reader. He had fond memories of when he was a kid and he read the entire collection of ?Anne of Green Gables. ? with his mother. The new nicnaks all looked like various Anne of Green Gable characters. He picked up a couple to examine them thinking one of them possibly tied in with a some flowers and a bow might make a thoughtful mothers day present.

Choosing a rather nice one, which was distinctly Anne with the freckles and red hair, he paid the vendor and started to walk away. But he'd only gone about 3 feet when that self important busy body Captain Copyright flew in out of the blue. Wow. Just like a real super hero too.

"Did you know that you have just purchased an unauthorized and unlicenced product" said Captain Copyright in his deep, strong and authoritative voice. Everyone on the street could hear this and as he spoke the vendor started cowering in his seat and glancing up and down the street with a very guilty look on his face.

Infringer's first instinct of course was to immediately put the product back. Copyright spoke with such authority and certainty, and his words always seamed so reasonable on the surface that it was very difficult for anyone not to do exactly what he said. But Infringer gathered his strength this time.

"Oh no, not you again", he sighed, "What, what, have I done this time?"

"That ceramic doll you just purchased was not licensed by the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority. It is illegal. You must hand it over to the appropriate authorities along with information about who you received it from so that they can all be destroyed. If you don't, the authorities will prosecute you instead"

"huhh." Private Infringer was confused. "Wait a minute. I haven't done anything wrong. What do you mean licensed? What is there to license? These are characters from a book. There weren't even any pictures in those books. How can this be breaking copyright?"
Read the full story here

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Post by Gwendolene » Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:16 am

So are Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea fair game or not? I'm thinking of adapting them for the stage...

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Post by Timothy » Wed Mar 07, 2007 4:19 pm

That's a good question. There are a lot of US theatre productions of the Anne works, for instance, that run without a license with the AoGGLA. The Authority seem to be interested mostly in trade items that make money, like dolls. There is also a gray area between American and Canadian jurisdiction. Beyond that, I don't have an answer. I still don't know how they can trademark a "distinct" likeness from a book in the public domain.

In the application to get licensed with the AoGGLA, the questions are geared towards how much money you're items cost and how much money you're going to make. I couldn't find one question that asks if you intend to use the likeness of Anne for purposes of integrity. The application process itself costs a whopping $50.

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Post by Shelly » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:47 pm

Gwendolene wrote:So are Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea fair game or not? I'm thinking of adapting them for the stage...
All of LMM's literature is in the public domain. CofA and FCofA definitely qualify, IMO.
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Post by Timothy » Mon May 07, 2007 6:45 pm

Speaking of theater productions, this article was published Saturday in the Ottawa Citizen regarding the creation of the Anne musical off Broadway. This is making many in the Canadian theater community upset because they are questioning why Canada's longest-running musical--shown at the Charlottetown festival since 1965--needs to be reinvented as an American version (especially since the writers hadn't even read AoGG before making the musical).

Anyway, this article brings up the question of whether or not you can make an Anne theater production without getting approval or licenced by the AoGG Licensing Authority.

The other Anne
A new American version of the P.E.I. classic has rankled some on the Canadian side
The Ottawa Citizen By Kate Goodloe
Published: Saturday, May 05, 2007

On the advice of their lawyers, Cryer and Ford made sure not to watch other productions --either stage or movie versions -- to ensure their work was based entirely upon the book, which is now in the public domain and not protected by copyright. That's a legal distinction that angers some in Canada, where a licensing authority typically approves new versions of the classic story.

Thousands of people and companies have contacted the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority about everything from creating new productions to selling dolls and dinnerwear sets that bear Anne's likeness, says Duncan MacIntosh, who represents the author's family on the eight-person authority board.

While new productions based solely on the book don't legally have to contact the authority for their permission, not doing so is "pretty unusual," MacIntosh says.

And while the Charlottetown production has a trademark on the phrase Anne of Green Gables The Musical the New York one is billed as Anne of Green Gables -- a title that many say is too close to the original for comfort.

"They should not have called it Anne of Green Gables," Atkey says. "I'd be a lot happier with the New York one if they would change the title, so they'd make it clear."

Source

I expected the Licensing Authority to respond with litigation, but instead it responded with a remark that it's "pretty unusual."

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Timothy
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Post by Timothy » Mon May 14, 2007 9:40 am

In the following article, the LMM Heirs have warned the New York musical production of Anne that they better not sell merchandise. :evil:

Warning sent to New York's Anne musical
CBC News, May 10, 2007
The heirs of Lucy Maud Montgomery have sent a warning to the producers of an off Broadway musical based on Anne of Green Gables. The American producers of the New York version of Anne didn't have to get permission from anyone to create their show, because the book is now in the public domain. The heirs of Lucy Maud Montgomery did, however, want the producers to know it's not completely open season on Anne. "The family thought they should be aware that there were some limitations and they shouldn't start producing merchandise," Marian Hebb, a copyright lawyer who represents the heirs, told CBC News. "They probably had no intention of doing that but they shouldn't be selling Anne of Green Gables hats and braids in theatre lobbies. That would have to be licensed."
>> Read more

Um... As far as I know, this doll at the Boutique isn't licensed. So why should anyone else have to get a license?

Or how about this hat and braids? not being licensed?

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Post by Gwendolene » Sun May 20, 2007 4:18 pm

Thanks for clearing that up Tim! Maybe I should get to work ;)
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