On an Unexpected DVD Find

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work. I needed shaving cream, I’d run out several days ago, and my experiment with shaving without cream was not without its successes I much prefer using shaving cream for a smoother shave. It’s my face, I get to be picky. 😉

Grocery stores have started stocking DVDs. It used to be that you’d see the recent hits and releases somewhere near the checkout lines, but I’ve recently noticed that grocery stores have started stocking the public domain titles that I’ve seen in Wal-Mart and various dollar stores for a few years now. Occasionally you can turn up a find in the public domain racks, and sometimes you find something completely unexpected.

Today, I found something completely unexpected. Unexpected, because I’m absolutely certain that this film is not in the public domain.

It’s the Rankin-Bass Hobbit.

The description from the back of the case:

A homebody demi human in Middle Earth gets talked into joining a quest with a group of dwarves to recover their treasure from a dragon!

With a description like that, how could I pass it up? With a price of only a dollar, for the sheer novelty value, I tossed the DVD in my cart and went on my merry way.

The thing is, the animated Hobbit has seen an official release, on both VHS and DVD, from Warner Home Video. There’s absolutely zero likelihood that the animated Hobbit has fallen into the public domain in the United States, so I don’t understand how EastWestDVD could release it, let alone at a dollar price point, without running afoul of all sorts of copyright infringements.

I’m still shaking my head. Not at the existence of the DVD or my ownership of it, but at the concept of Bilbo Baggins as a “homebody demi human.” Somewhere, J.R.R. Tolkien can’t be pleased.

7 thoughts on “On an Unexpected DVD Find

  1. The current copyright holder (whoever that may be, assuming Rankin-Bass has long since been gobbled up by some conglomorate or another) may have given WBHV the home video rights for a limited period, after which they then sold those rights to EastWestDVD.

    It’s also not outside the realm of possibility that EastWestDVD is actually part of WBHV, a subsidiary they use to churn out el cheapo versions of properties either in the public domain, or that they feel are better suited to the supermarket impulse buy bin.

  2. A homebody demi human in Middle Earth gets talked into joining a quest with a group of dwarves to recover their treasure from a dragon!

    Regardless of the copryright issues, that sentence should be taken out back and shot. Is that four prepositional phrases used to end that sentence?:???:

  3. I had no issues with the image quality, though I didn’t watch much, just ten minutes or so. It’s not taken directly from the WHV master, as the chapter stops are different, but if it came from a good analog source it was pretty noise-free for analog.

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