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View Full Version : "Orphan Works" copyright law dies in House.



Drusilla lives!
09-30-2008, 06:58 PM
Interesting article in Wired about the "Orphan Works" copyright law... apparently another victim of the credit crisis.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/09/orphan-works-co.html

Lord Destiny
10-09-2008, 08:36 AM
I'm a nostalgic. Sometimes I like things just because they're old.

But for the sake of humanity, it's probably best that these old properties lie forgotten. It forces us to invent new ideas, rather than animating the dead.

Xeno
10-09-2008, 10:00 AM
I'm a nostalgic. Sometimes I like things just because they're old.

But for the sake of humanity, it's probably best that these old properties lie forgotten. It forces us to invent new ideas, rather than animating the dead.

I didn't like the bill but I disagree with your assessment of letting old properties lie dormant; this goes against the original premise of copyright. Copyright is supposed to exist as an agreement between creators and the public wherein they are granted a monopoly and, in exchange, the property enters the public domain in the future. Congress has legislated the second half of that agreement out of existence. By this point in time, Mickey Mouse should be a public domain entity. That doesn't prevent Disney from using the mouse, it just means others can use Mickey as well. The situation as it stands now is completely out of control and heavily in favor of those with their hooks into legislators.

bartl
10-09-2008, 02:32 PM
I didn't like the bill but I disagree with your assessment of letting old properties lie dormant; this goes against the original premise of copyright. Copyright is supposed to exist as an agreement between creators and the public wherein they are granted a monopoly and, in exchange, the property enters the public domain in the future. Congress has legislated the second half of that agreement out of existence. By this point in time, Mickey Mouse should be a public domain entity. That doesn't prevent Disney from using the mouse, it just means others can use Mickey as well. The situation as it stands now is completely out of control and heavily in favor of those with their hooks into legislators.
Sigh.

Please learn the difference between trademark and copyright.

dancj
10-10-2008, 05:06 AM
If Mickey Mouse is only trademarked, then doesn't that mean anyone can do stories about him in comics as long as they don't show him on the cover?

bartl
10-10-2008, 07:50 AM
If Mickey Mouse is only trademarked, then doesn't that mean anyone can do stories about him in comics as long as they don't show him on the cover?
As much as they can do stories about Superman in comics as long as they don't show him on the cover.

However, copyright laws extended the length of the copyright so that Steamboat Willie is still copyrighted.

Now, for example, Sherlock Holmes is out of copyright, but still trademarked. So you can come out with a complete collection of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, but can't use "Sherlock Holmes" in the title, nor can you create original Sherlock Holmes stories without the consent of the Doyle estate.

A trademark is an encouragement for a company to produce high quality products. By assigning their name to the product, they are putting their reputation on the line. Therefore, if someone uses someone else's trademark, they are not only stealing from the owner of the trademark, but also from the consumer, who assumes that what they are buying is from the owner of the trademark, and therefore has that level of quality.

Xeno
10-10-2008, 07:57 AM
Sigh.

Please learn the difference between trademark and copyright.

Thanks for being such a pleasant individual and trying to foster a conversation! You really know how to make others understand your point when you're dismissive and condescending! You must lead a fulfilling life.

Xeno
10-10-2008, 08:00 AM
Sigh.

Please learn the difference between trademark and copyright.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

That was a really jerky post you made. If you're so tired of these discussions, don't engage in them. There's no cause for you to be so rude.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono_Copyright_Term_Extension_Act

Copyright prevents derivative works. "Another argument against the Bono Act is an "offshore production" argument: that, for example, derivative works could be created outside the United States in areas where copyright would have expired, such works advancing science or the useful arts, and that US law would prohibit these works to US residents. A movie of Mickey Mouse playing with a computer ( la Sorcerer's Apprentice) could be legally created in Russia and children worldwide could possibly benefit from watching it, but the movie would be refused admission for importation by US Customs because of copyright, resulting in a deprivation to American children."

Which was my point.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

MartinRedmond
10-10-2008, 08:39 AM
Or the russian w/e could always make up their own characters instead of Mickey Mouse, you know.

Steven Grant
10-10-2008, 11:37 AM
Or the russian w/e could always make up their own characters instead of Mickey Mouse, you know.

When I say things like that to publishers they just stare blankly then ask if I'd like to write a revival of Fu Manchu...

- Grant

Steven Grant
10-10-2008, 11:46 AM
If Mickey Mouse is only trademarked, then doesn't that mean anyone can do stories about him in comics as long as they don't show him on the cover?

You can't do new work involving Mickey Mouse. That's trademark infringement. You can (theoretically) publish any stories involving Mickey Mouse that have traversed into public domain as long as you in no way use Mickey Mouse as a marketing tool for your product.

Which would likely make your product more difficult to market than it was worth, and most likely trigger a lawsuit from Disney, whose lawyers would certainly have a different interpretation of "marketing tool" than you do. My guess is they'd claim that the presence of Mickey Mouse period was the sole marketable element of the product and thus you're infringing trademark, and they'd likely make you spend every penny you or any of your descendants for several generations would ever earn to defend your right to publish, because the point wouldn't be to take you to court because in legal terms a settlement is always better than a verdict because you can control the settlement you get (esp. if you're the one with the deep pockets) but you can't always control a verdict. Plus if a settlement goes against you, you can privatize it so that it doesn't become a precedent. If a verdict goes against you, that's a gift of trouble that keeps on giving...

In other words: new Mickey stories? No. Old PD Mickey stories? Maybe.

Trademarks - such as Mickey Mouse - don't go into public domain as long as the trademark holder keeps using them. In comics that gets interesting because the back issue market can be claimed as continued use of a trademark, meaning you wouldn't necessarily have to keep publishing issues of MUCUS THE GREAT to keep the trademark active, though in the event of a contested trademark, contemporaneous publishing would certainly be to your benefit.

- Grant

bartl
10-11-2008, 11:16 AM
Thanks for being such a pleasant individual and trying to foster a conversation! You really know how to make others understand your point when you're dismissive and condescending! You must lead a fulfilling life.
Look at the tone of the message to which I was replying. My response was appropriate.

bartl
10-11-2008, 11:30 AM
Which would likely make your product more difficult to market than it was worth, and most likely trigger a lawsuit from Disney, whose lawyers would certainly have a different interpretation of "marketing tool" than you do. My guess is they'd claim that the presence of Mickey Mouse period was the sole marketable element of the product and thus you're infringing trademark, and they'd likely make you spend every penny you or any of your descendants for several generations would ever earn to defend your right to publish, because the point wouldn't be to take you to court because in legal terms a settlement is always better than a verdict because you can control the settlement you get (esp. if you're the one with the deep pockets) but you can't always control a verdict. Plus if a settlement goes against you, you can privatize it so that it doesn't become a precedent. If a verdict goes against you, that's a gift of trouble that keeps on giving...

In other words: new Mickey stories? No. Old PD Mickey stories? Maybe.[quote]
If there are any PD Mickey stories, which I doubt (unless Disney flubbed the copyright renewal).

[quote]Trademarks - such as Mickey Mouse - don't go into public domain as long as the trademark holder keeps using them.
And vigorously defend them; that's a reason why Disney is so anal-retentive about going to court with them. Also, why Coca Cola sends out reps to bars ordering "rum and Coke" and suing if they served any other cola. Trademarks HAVE been lost by the original company not defending them hard enough; examples include aspirin (in the U.S.), pilates, thermos, and, as I frequently point out, "Webster's Dictionary".

One term where a trademark has been granted and should not have is "Ugg Boots"; a generic term in Australia, granted as a trademark to the first company who brought them to the U.S.

In comics, the copyright vs. trademark issue is currently making its way with Superman and Superboy.

dancj
10-13-2008, 05:37 AM
One term where a trademark has been granted and should not have is "Ugg Boots"; a generic term in Australia, granted as a trademark to the first company who brought them to the U.S.
And of course another obvious example is "Super-Hero" on the cover of comics which is held by Marvel and DC jointly.

"Webster's Dictionary" sounds like a crazy one to lose though.

Imaginos666
10-13-2008, 08:56 AM
[QUOTE=Steven Grant;7703324]Which would likely make your product more difficult to market than it was worth, and most likely trigger a lawsuit from Disney, whose lawyers would certainly have a different interpretation of "marketing tool" than you do. My guess is they'd claim that the presence of Mickey Mouse period was the sole marketable element of the product and thus you're infringing trademark, and they'd likely make you spend every penny you or any of your descendants for several generations would ever earn to defend your right to publish, because the point wouldn't be to take you to court because in legal terms a settlement is always better than a verdict because you can control the settlement you get (esp. if you're the one with the deep pockets) but you can't always control a verdict. Plus if a settlement goes against you, you can privatize it so that it doesn't become a precedent. If a verdict goes against you, that's a gift of trouble that keeps on giving...

In other words: new Mickey stories? No. Old PD Mickey stories? Maybe.[quote]
If there are any PD Mickey stories, which I doubt (unless Disney flubbed the copyright renewal).


And vigorously defend them; that's a reason why Disney is so anal-retentive about going to court with them. Also, why Coca Cola sends out reps to bars ordering "rum and Coke" and suing if they served any other cola. Trademarks HAVE been lost by the original company not defending them hard enough; examples include aspirin (in the U.S.), pilates, thermos, and, as I frequently point out, "Webster's Dictionary".

One term where a trademark has been granted and should not have is "Ugg Boots"; a generic term in Australia, granted as a trademark to the first company who brought them to the U.S.

In comics, the copyright vs. trademark issue is currently making its way with Superman and Superboy.


Xerox has a pretty aggressive marketing campaign for defending its name, too. They frequently run print ads reminding people it's not a generic term.

Steven Grant
10-13-2008, 10:12 AM
And of course another obvious example is "Super-Hero" on the cover of comics which is held by Marvel and DC jointly.

I'd have to check, but I believe the agreement is that one of them holds "superhero" and the other "super-hero" and they have a mutual use agreement.

- Grant

Xeno
10-16-2008, 11:49 AM
Look at the tone of the message to which I was replying. My response was appropriate.

No, it was not. Your tone was dismissive and rude. My tone was nowhere near that. Don't bother defending yourself; I've already judged you.

bartl
10-16-2008, 08:27 PM
No, it was not. Your tone was dismissive and rude. My tone was nowhere near that. Don't bother defending yourself; I've already judged you.
How judgmental of you.

Lord Destiny
10-25-2008, 09:20 AM
Best thing we can do to defeat Disney is to stop teaching our kids that Mickey Mouse is worth paying attention to. They can't afford to keep perpetuating their trademarks if nobody buys them.

Steven Grant
10-25-2008, 08:58 PM
Best thing we can do to defeat Disney is to stop teaching our kids that Mickey Mouse is worth paying attention to. They can't afford to keep perpetuating their trademarks if nobody buys them.

Kids these days have next to zero interest in Mickey Mouse; I'd bet quite a few of them aren't even aware he was ever in cartoons. (He is more of a corporate mascot these days.) But they still like getting stuff.

- Grant

Drusilla lives!
11-05-2008, 04:04 PM
For those of you who don't frequent the classic comics forum, this came up in a discussion regarding "Skywald" comics of the early 70's... not really related directly to "orphan works," (or Skywald for that matter) but too funny to pass up.

Well, Xam! (http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2007/04/well-xam.html)

Drusilla lives!
11-21-2008, 01:38 PM
Another rights fight, for those interested...

Beatty wants control of Dick. (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2008/11/heres-somethi-1.html)

bartl
11-21-2008, 02:56 PM
Another rights fight, for those interested...

Beatty wants control of Dick. (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2008/11/heres-somethi-1.html)
He never seemed to want to control it before.

Drusilla lives!
11-21-2008, 05:46 PM
He never seemed to want to control it before.

LOL.

If he doesn't know how by now I don't see much hope for him... he's had a lot of practice I've heard.

Drusilla lives!
01-05-2009, 07:37 AM
I was browsing the web looking for info on Jon Mayes, the cover artist to Famous Funnies #1. Didn't find anything on Mayes, but I did come across some interesting practical stuff regarding the concept of copyright (what it is, how to get one, etc...) here (http://www.whatiscopyright.org/) and a really nice conversation (forum thread) with regard to copyrights and scans of golden age comics here (http://goldenagecomics.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,446.0.html), for those interested.

I found that last forum thread really interesting since coincidently I was thinking of getting that new book by Frazetta (Telling Stories: The Comic Art of Frank Frazetta) and noticed that some reviewers (http://blog.oregonlive.com/steveduin/2008/09/book_review_telling_stories_th.html) really panned it for (among other reasons) it's extensive page re-coloring and in some cases re-touching of some of the original art. Now I wonder if the work really needed re-coloring and re-touching or was it done more to regain some sort of copyright protection for the work that he lost or signed away to others as a freelancer (who subsequently lost their copyright for whatever reason) in those golden age comics. The forum members mention that an original work, once out of copyright cannot be re-copyrighted even by the original author. But apparently old work that has significant "value added" features (extensive re-coloring, re-touching, etc...) can, under a new and different copyright.

Basically, the forum conversation revolved around the amusing fact that some "scanner" had watermarked his comic scans for his golden age site and found that some appeared without his permission on their site. They mentioned that "scanned" work is not really copyrightable for it is not adding anything to the original (even though many scanners "touchup" the scans) and hence he really couldn't force them to remove them (from what I read they did anyway, just to shut him up). They pointed out that what is required is something like what DC or Marvel would do on their collections... perform extensive re-coloring, re-inking, etc., to qualify as adding value... of course it goes without saying that in most cases DC and Marvel don't let their copyrights lapse either. :)

Morgan Wick
01-08-2009, 11:24 AM
Kids these days have next to zero interest in Mickey Mouse; I'd bet quite a few of them aren't even aware he was ever in cartoons. (He is more of a corporate mascot these days.) But they still like getting stuff.

- Grant

I was always more of a Bugs Bunny fan myself. As in, I've seen next to no Mickey cartoons ever (or more than a couple Disney shorts at all), and was barely even aware Disney put out shorts, but I've probably seen 90% of the original Bugs library. That may be because it always aired on Cartoon Network in the late 90s, which also had other stuff worth watching...

Oh, and I'm 20 going on 21. Hardly a "kid". And with the increasing backlash over Disney's protectionism of Mickey, I think we're going to see a rollback of the copyright laws in my lifetime. However, I also think we're going to see the introduction of the concept of "active use". In other words, ordinarily the copyright or trademark or whatever would last 50 years or whatever, but if the work, or derivations of the work, is still being consistently used by the holder, it could last longer, though maybe not indefinitely. A copyright or trademark not in "active use" for a period of time (maybe as short as a couple of years if the overall period is expired) is abandoned and enters the public domain.

NatGertler
01-08-2009, 05:27 PM
Trademarks actually do already have an "active use" standard. If you don't use it for a few years, it's not your trademark any more.

bartl
01-10-2009, 02:56 PM
Trademarks actually do already have an "active use" standard. If you don't use it for a few years, it's not your trademark any more.
And, otherwise, trademarks last forever.

A kind of tricky concept is that trademark law is ultimately in place to protect the consumer, which is why the vendor has to perform a number of duties to retain the trademark. Essentially, it's a way of labeling a product according to its producer, so that the reputation of the producer is attached to the product. If someone fakes a trademark, it defrauds the consumer rather than the trademark owner, in that the consumer is not getting what s/he is expecting to get. But the burden of enforcement is on the trademark owner; if they do not act to protect their trademark, including using it, they lose it.

What makes it tricky is that some trademarks make better marketing tools than others. In comics, for example, there are some characters (such as Wonder Woman, although "she" involves some other legal complications) who are VERY useful as trademarks, and virtually worthless as stars in their comics. So the characters continue to be used. And, of course, you can have dueling trademarks, which is why Marvel will continue to have a "Captain Marvel" character no matter how ridiculous.