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Friday, August 14, 1998 Published at 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK


Business: The Company File

Winnie the Pooh divides the spoils

Millions in Pooh earnings up for grabs

The Garrick Club for men has voted to divide the spoils of a possible 50m ($80m) Winnie the Pooh copyright windfall between charity and renovations to their headquarters.

Only 400 of the 1,000-strong membership turned up to vote, but they decided to support the club management committee's plan, under chairman Anthony Butcher, to devote the money to the setting up of a charitable fund and improvements to the Drury Lane London club.

The prospect of finding themselves with the large honeypot had caused an internal squabble in the club over what to do with the money, which could have resulted in a 39,000 pay-out per member.

One member said after the meeting the decision was in keeping with the club's reputation as an "honourable institution."

The Disney Corporation holds the film, TV and licensing rights for Winnie the Pooh until 2006 after they were sold by the beneficiaries of Pooh creator AA Milne's estate, which include the Garrick Club.


[ image: Lamont wanted his share]
Lamont wanted his share
But under proposed changes to US copyright law, Disney may be able to tie up the rights for a further 20 years earning copyright fees of about 200m ($320m) for Winnie the Pooh's 'owners', the beneficiaries.

Other beneficiaries are Milne's family, his old school Westminster College, the Royal Literary Fund, and the family of former Pooh illustrator E.H.Shepard.

Lamont loses out

Former Tory chancellor Lord Lamont reportedly supported the money being divided up between the members.

Others suggested that members are wealthy enough already and should give the money away to charity, saying that this what the author would have wanted.

If the US's proposed copyright changes do not go through, rights to Pooh under current laws will dissolve in 2006, 50 years after Milne's death.



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