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Disney's Unapproved "Joy Division" Shirt Delights Former Bassist

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To slightly tweak my opener from yesterday's article: Judging from the frequency in which Disney (DIS) drags companies to court over copyright disputes, you'd think its name was Apple (AAPL).

The Mickey Mouse Co. has a lengthy and storied history of going after any hint of copyright infringement -- including that delightful tale of the company strong-arming a Florida daycare to remove Disney characters from its walls. The company is so litigious, in fact, that its extensive lobbying actually led to the Copyright Term Extension Act earning the nickname "Mickey Mouse Protection Act." But, not unlike Apple's malleable stance on copyright law when it came to Apple Records, Disney is no stranger to "borrowing" ideas from others -- most notably The Lion King's blatant appropriation of Japan's Kimba the White Lion.

So it's no shock that Disney was "influenced" once again when designing a T-shirt aimed at adults and marketed in its online Disney Store. What is pretty surprising, however, is the source of inspiration.

You might even say, they lost control.

Pitchfork reports that Disney created a Mickey Mouse tee that features the character's recognizable three-circled logo shaped by the pulsar waves in Joy Division's famous album cover for Unknown Pleasures.

The original description for the shirt read, "Inspired by the iconic sleeve of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album, this Waves Mickey Mouse Tee incorporates Mickey's image within the graphic of the pulse of a star. That's appropriate given few stars have made bigger waves than Mickey!"

The subsequent listing then omitted any reference to Joy Division or the album, seen here: (Courtesy of NME)

At first blush, you might not think there would be much crossover between die-hard Disney zealots and the gloomy fans of Manchester's seminal post-punk band. However, the product was listed as sold out briefly before the entire page disappeared from the site.

But how do former members of the band feel about the product? Well, former bassist Peter Hook is pretty delighted about it. Speaking with NME, Hook said it was "quite a compliment" and since the classic image was lifted from Cambridge Encyclopedia Of Astronomy, neither party could really claim ownership.

"From a legal point of view, the image is in the public domain, as Disney know and, in a funny way, it's quite a compliment for a huge conglomerate like Disney to pick up on a poor little Manchester band that only existed for a couple of years, it's quite startling," Hook said. "I'm amazed they're that hard up that they need to prey on little indie bands, but I get the feeling that someone may have done it as a tongue in cheek compliment."

Hook told NME that he usually polices the web for Joy Division bootlegs and ask the sellers to contribute to an Epilepsy charity in memory of Joy Division's late singer, Ian Curtis. "So, maybe if we wanted to make Disney feel guilty we could suggest that they did that," Hook related.

Only then, we would go on as though nothing was wrong.

(See also: Apple Burning Through Cash in Failed Attempts to Crush Android and iPhone Can't Match Android's Versatility, Says Steve Wozniak)

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