Copyright material goes into the public domain 50-70 years after it's created (depending on the type of material, the way it was published, date it was created, etc). Once material is in the public domain, anybody can use it in any way they see fit, and they don't have to pay the original creator a penny. Disney has made much of it's fortune by grabbing stuff from the public domain and republishing it in their own vision. For example, Jungle Book, Aladdin, Alice, all of the known fairytale characters from Shrek movies, Peter Pan/Captain Hook, Cinderella, Snow White, Wizard of Oz, etc. Here is a complete list of over 200 characters they've made money from by using the public domain to recreate known stories without paying the original author/creator (or their family, in the cases of their deaths): http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Disney_Characters That's fine, and perfectly legal. However, as the characters and content that they did create themselves are at the age that they are suppose to be entering the public domain, so other people could use them and profit from them, as well ... they are suddenly against the public domain and paying huge amounts of money to politicians and lawyers to get copyright laws rewrote to prevent their material from going to the public domain. Which is garbage, because they owe much of their existence and success to the system, but they are trying to prevent all others from benefiting from it.