via Chochilino / Twitter

The Walt Disney company is notorious for the way it aggressively protects its brand and trademarks. It's been called the "most powerful brand in the world," in part due to how it guards its intellectual property by any means necessary.

According to lawyers from the Michael Jackson estate, Disney's "zeal to protect its own intellectual property from infringements, real or imagined, often knows no bounds."

Now, the company is taking heat for going so far to protect a copyright that it has denied a simple request from a father whose young son recently died.


Ollie Jones lost his life to leukodystrophy, a rare genetic disease, last December at the age of four. Ollie was a massive fan of Spider-Man, a Marvel character owned by the Walt Disney Corporation.

The boy's father, Lloyd Jones, thought it would be fitting to have the superhero looking over his son, so he designed a tombstone featuring Spider-Man to appear at his grave site at Maidstone Cemetery in Kent, England.

via GoodingFuneralServs/Twitter

However, a local council of Maidstone, U.K. said it needed permission from Disney to create the tombstone due to potential copyright infringement. Disney denied the request, citing a rule handed down by Walt Disney himself. While he was alive, Disney banned the use of Disney characters on graves, tombstones, and other memorial markers.

RELATED: Disney's black Ariel isn't just about diverse representation. It's also about undoing past wrongs.

"His coffin was covered in Spider-Man, the procession was led by someone dressed as Spider-Man, this would really mean the world to us," his father told Yahoo. "I didn't expect it to be an issue – my funeral director, who's also my friend, rang me and told me they can't do it. I thought he was joking at first."

via Lloyd Jones / Facebook

"We extend our sincere condolences. If we played a small part in Ollie's happiness we are honored," a Disney representative said in a statement.

"Generations of fans have responded to our characters with the same wonder and delight that Ollie did. In fact, many believe the characters to be real. We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy. For that reason, we follow a policy that began with Walt Disney himself that does not permit the use of characters on headstones, cemetery or other memorial markers or funeral urns."

RELATED: Disney will hold its first official Pride event this year because the Happiest Place on Earth is for everyone

Disney's dedication to protecting its brand, even if it means breaking the hearts of a grieving family, struck many on social media as a cruel gesture. Reddit users responded by trashing Disney with memes.

via Redpandaca / Reddit

via Pathetticcat / Reddit

via Ondra01 / Reddit


via Meme-Mage / Reddit

via I_am_unique_6435 / Reddit

Multiple Twitter users noted that characters in Disney movies — especially its Marvel films — die all the time.

Believe it or not, there has been a lot of controversy lately about how people cook rice. According to CNN, the "outrage" was a reaction to a clip Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng posted as one of his personas known as Uncle Roger.

It was a hilarious (and harmless) satire about the method chef Hersha Patel used to cook rice on the show BBC Food.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash
True

It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

Keep Reading Show less

You can put this one in the "win column" for those who believe in equal pay. Leslie Odom Jr. took a stand and was not going to settle for anything other than what was fair.

The Hamilton star, who won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the most successful musical in modern history, simply sought a similar wage to white actors who had comparable roles in other musicals. As he explained to Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, they did not contact his agent at CAA until after the announcement of the shows filming. When the offer finally came, it was disappointing.


Keep Reading Show less