Childhood ownership status: grim

While looking through some Google+ posts I came across an article where Marvel apparently told some exercise place they couldn't name their exercises after comic book characters. And then I hearkened back to a realization that I realized when the Star Wars license was acquired by Disney:

My entire childhood is owned by a handful of companies.

I grew up in the 1970s, and in that time there were several things that I associate with my childhood. Here's where their licenses stand:

  • Star Wars: Lucasfilm (Disney)
  • Muppets: Jim Henson Productions (Disney)
  • Spiderman: Marvel (Disney)
  • Tron (Disney)
  • Disney Animation Studios (Disney)
  • Dungeons and Dragons: Wizards of the Coast (Hasbro)
  • GI Joe / Masters of the Universe / Transformers (Hasbro)
  • Parker Brothers (Merlin handheld, various games) (Hasbro)
  • Milton-Bradley (Hasbro)
  • Mattel Electronics (Intellevision, etc.) (Mattel)
  • Atari (who hasn't owned Atari at this point?)

Worse, companies like Disney and Hasbro are famous for taking their licensed characters / properties so seriously that they will gladly send cease and desist letters to anyone who dares use their IP. Just ask the guy who had a character generator for D&D, or someone who did fan art for My Little Pony. Or anyone who has ever run afoul of Disney's lawyers.

So I've com e to terms that I'll never be able to have my childhood free from corporations who would rather shake down a daycare than have their trademarks used without permission, or have a fan make something useful for playing their game. I get that. But I don't have to continually abide by this, nor do I have to continually support their businesses. But the deeds are done, and I can't change the nostalgia I feel fro the characters, ships, and other trappings of these universes and products.

But I can vote with my future time and efforts. And while I'll look longingly at the Lego Star Wars toys and other goodies coming out as Disney fully exploits their licenses I can take my inner 8 year old gently by the arm and show him other things: things that allow me to play along in their universe using Creative Commons or other licenses. And I can consciously gravitate to companies that don't have a coronary whenever someone tries to play in their sandbox.

It's the sort of thing any responsible parent would want for their inner child. :)


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