I was just reading theDinosaurspage and I noticed it hadn't specified who the current owners of the television series currently are. Who owns the rights to this show, theoretically speaking, should they want to re-release it on DVD or make a new production with them? Was it covered in the Disney buyout in 2004?
Disney has always owned the distribution rights to the show, which was unaffected by the 2004 sale. However, I'm not sure whether the characters are owned by Henson or Disney. The credits and video packaging don't list copyrights regarding ownership of characters. The old Dinosaurs toys have a Disney copyright on the foots.
Someone should provide a better explanation, because I'm still confused. I just find the sources on who owns what to be vague, and no one seems to have been following up on it until at least five years ago.
All evidence leads me to believe that Disney outright owns Dinosaurs, and has ever since it primered back in 1991.
Every single episode of Dinosaurs and every piece of Dinosaurs-related merchandise lists the copyright holder as either "The Walt Disney Company", "Disney Enterprises, Inc", or simply "Disney".
The Jim Henson Company has never been listed as a copyright or trademark holder of Dinosaurs.
The packaging of the Dinosaurs DVDs doesn't even have a more modern "Jim Henson Company" logo, but features "Jim Henson Productions" (the former name of the Jim Henson Company) in generic text. This rather heavily implies that the Jim Henson Company does not hold any rights to Dinosaurs as of today.
However, there is one way that the Jim Henson Company, or at least the Henson family, may still have a small legal/financial stake in Dinosaurs, and I'll explain below.
Brian Henson was a producer on Dinosaurs. If he was in the Producers' Guild when Dinosaurs was produced and/or if he negotiated a fair deal with Disney, he probably gets some kind of royaltities and/or residuals off of Dinosaurs.
Michael Jacobs was also a producer on Dinosaurs, and I'd imagine he's in the Producers' Guild. So he, and at least some of the other producers of Dinosaurs also likely get royalties and/or residuals off of Dinosaurs.
I can't prove who gets royalties and/or residuals off of Dinosaurs, because AFAIK, that information (and most entertainment industry contracts) has not been made publically available, and it was likely part of some non-disclosure agreement. So, I took an educated guess.
It is possible that the Hensons might have some kind of stake in Dinosaurs. For instance, Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment aren't listed as copyright or trademark holders on anything related to Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs (and the only Gremlins-related media Amblin had a copyright mention on was the Gremlins 2 video game made for the NES). But Spielberg and Amblin do have some control over those properties. if Warner Bros. wants to make a new movie or TV series based on them, they have to get Spielberg's people to sign off on them.
But I have no proof whatsover that the Hensons have a similar deal with Dinosaurs that Spielberg does with Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Gremlins. Again, I'm just guessing.
So in conclusion:
Even if the Hensons don't have any ownership of Dinosaurs, I am fairly convinced they still get money off, do to it being a union show.
And in any case, the Hensons seem to have a mostly amicable relationship with the Walt Disney Company today. And that's despite their lack of any meaningful involvement with Muppet-related productions. The Hensons co-produced Alexander and the Terrible, No-Good Day with Disney. And they took Disney's side in the current Steve Whitmore controversy. So, I think things are good on that front.
Thank you so much for the information. I still think Henson deserves a share of the rights, unless, they signed some sort of agreement with Disney. You know with the planned merger? But, the information you provided was interesting, and much more clear. Thanks again!
The Jim Henson television logo is also shown. I know the show is a Disney program, and is a co production between Disney and Henson. I just find sources on who owns what to be confusing from time to time. But John pannozzi provided me with info that was much more clear. Yes it's a Disney show. Alway's has been. Always will be. But, the show was Henson's idea, so I believe they deserve credit. Of course Disney deserves credit as well.