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Character Copyrights?

Posted By Lord Ashes 4 Years Ago
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Lord Ashes
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When a movie like Star Wars is copyright, what exactly does that the copyright protect?
Obviously not the general plot because you have so many (not necessarily Star Wars) movies or books which share a very similar plot line.
What about characters within the movie? I heard rumors that J. K. Rowling wanted to kill off the main characters in her Harry Potter series to prevent them from being used in other works. This would tend to indicate that the characters themselves are not covered by the novels' copyrights. I know movies like Star Wars have a lot of fan fiction including fan made videos which typically do not include the characters from the main movies but I am guessing this has more to do with the difficulty of re-creating the original characters as opposed to creating new ones.
I just posted a fairly authentic rendition of R2D2 in my Reallusion market place store. My R2D2 prop has been made 100% from scratch, by me, but based on images from the movie. I doubt that George Lucas is going to be chasing me down any time soon but theoretically if I am selling my R2D2 on Reallusion's market place then I am gaining from George Lucas' design (of R2D2). Would movies' copyrights extend to the design of R2D2? If so, to what extent? For example, there are a number of other R2 units in the movies. Would this mean that all R2 units are copyright? Anything looking even somewhat like R2D2 could fall in this category.
Hence, my question as to what the copyright of a movie (or novel) actually protects. 


"We often compare ourselves to the U.S. and often they come out the best, but they only have the right to walk on the grass while we have the right to smoke it"
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planetstardragon
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you have mechanical and intellectual rights -     the intellectual rights are the concept of the persona you have created -  the idea,    gollum ...is an idea -  if you made a stick figure called gollum and gave him the same personality and role type ...you could get sued for using the 'idea' of gollum - despite using stick figures. 

the mechanical rights are the tangible manifestations of gollum and the rights to physically produce and distribute the 'mechanical' being of the idea.

-  a good reference example would be a book -   the book itself is the manifestation of the idea ....but if I wrote another book with another story based on the gollum idea ....then that's an intellectual copyright infringement. 

another example ...if I tried to write a star wars 10 comic book -  that would be an intellectual infringement  -  despite the fact that none other have written star wars 10 in comic book form.



bluemidget666
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Normally star wars fans have been able to make fan films with no issues, but now it's owned by Disney there might be a issue as Disney has a 0 tolarence policy on copyright infringement.





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Peter Blood
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Yeah, the guys at Disney are real D*ckheads. ( I'm saying D*ck like in Donald D*ck...right? Unsure Don't sue me bro! )

Cool pete


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grabiller
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planetstardragon (5/21/2015)
you have mechanical and intellectual rights -     the intellectual rights are the concept of the persona you have created -  the idea,    gollum ...is an idea -  if you made a stick figure called gollum and gave him the same personality and role type ...you could get sued for using the 'idea' of gollum - despite using stick figures. 

the mechanical rights are the tangible manifestations of gollum and the rights to physically produce and distribute the 'mechanical' being of the idea.

-  a good reference example would be a book -   the book itself is the manifestation of the idea ....but if I wrote another book with another story based on the gollum idea ....then that's an intellectual copyright infringement. 

another example ...if I tried to write a star wars 10 comic book -  that would be an intellectual infringement  -  despite the fact that none other have written star wars 10 in comic book form.

Actually, an "idea" is not copyrightable, what is copyrightable is the implementation of that "idea".
For instance, the "idea" of Gollum is not copyrightable, but its implementation, yes: You give him a name, "Gollum", the name itself is copyrighted. You then give him a look, the LOR Gollum look is copyrighted.
Now, take again the Gollum "idea", give him another name, say "Pollum", and create a different look than in LOR. You can then safely use this new "implementation" of the Gollum "idea".


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justaviking
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As a NON-lawyer...

I remember the recent discussion (which I participated in) about the Star Wars figures.  That made me more aware of the many, many other such characters people use from many sources... Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider Man (the entire comic book and "Marvel" universe)... the list is endless.

Legally, I think many people are on thin ice, especially people trying to make money.  For personal enjoyment that you share with some friends as a hobby, that's different.  But as soon as you make money, or your "friends" become numbered in the hundreds or thousands, then things change.

In practice, do I think a person is likely to run into trouble?  At the level most of us here operate, probably not.  But likely or not, we cannot encourage behavior which might not be legal.  It doesn't mean I'm going to report anyone to a company's lawyers, I just feel obligated to promote caution.

You should report all your income on your taxes, even if you were paid in cash.  You should obey the speed limit when driving.  You should not take pens home from the office.



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coolhewitt24
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I have also noticed Marvel copyrighted characters in the market place.  I'm curious why Reallusion isn't enforcing copyright.
Lord Ashes
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What about movies that parody other movies? Some parody movies have many references to, typically, many movies. Are these just different enough to avoid copyright violations or they get the rights to do the parody?


"We often compare ourselves to the U.S. and often they come out the best, but they only have the right to walk on the grass while we have the right to smoke it"
Lord Ashes' Original
justaviking
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Lord Ashes (8/25/2015)
What about movies that parody other movies? Some parody movies have many references to, typically, many movies. Are these just different enough to avoid copyright violations or they get the rights to do the parody?


Based on reading I've done over the years...

I know "parody" is protected (allowed), so you can make fun of Star Wars and their characters.  That makes movies like "Space Balls" or "Hot Shots" (parody of Top Gun) allowable.

You can also utilize clips from Star Wars in the movie review you post on YouTube.  (Or "Movie Sins" or blooper highlight reels.)

But you cannot make "Star Wars Episode 10" without getting in trouble.

Lots of fuzzy gray lines, though.  Keeps the lawyers employed.




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4 Years Ago by justaviking



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