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Can comic book publishers and animation studios sue over name homages?

 
 
Reply Sun 10 Apr, 2011 07:13 pm
I know homages to existing characters are allowed in comics, especially if you doing a parody. If you are writing a comic book can companies sue if you reference an established character in a character's name? I don't mean use the exact same name - use a modified version of it, or would that border on infringement? I am curious. Please help-thank you.
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Type: Question • Score: 0 • Views: 4,073 • Replies: 13
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Mon 11 Apr, 2011 03:40 pm
I am writing a comic book about streetfighting cats and dogs. If I named some of characters after some of the characters in the Catillac Cats as homages:

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j110/launchpad25/heathcliff.jpg

Can the people who own the Cats sue?

For example, if I named some cats Riff, or Riffy or Cleo as a reference to Riff Raff or Cleo, for example, can they sue?

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Aldistar
 
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Reply Tue 12 Apr, 2011 08:36 pm
Not really, as long as the character doesn't look like them as well. Names are pretty generic and not really copy rightable in most cases.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 12:57 am
@Aldistar,
That's what I thought. If I had some cats and dogs named for characters int his show it's like a nod to them.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 08:51 am
Character names can't be copyrighted, but they can be trademarked. If you create a cartoon rodent named Mikey Mouse, you can be sure that the Disney legal department will be giving you a call. Furthermore, characters themselves can be copyrighted to the extent that they are unique literary creations.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 09:26 am
@joefromchicago,
You can send the Library of Congress pics of characters to be copyrighted? Not a set story using them, just character drawings?
joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 09:44 am
@JGoldman10,
No.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 10:29 am
@joefromchicago,
What about model sheets?
joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 11:51 am
@JGoldman10,
You don't send anything to the LOC except published works.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 11:54 am
@joefromchicago,
A long time ago I sent them a comic book story I drew and wrote that used some of the characters I created and got that copyrighted. If I create new related characters I have to create another comic story?

Can you re-do a comic story and get that copyrighted if you weren't satisfied with the original one?
joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 12:23 pm
@JGoldman10,
JGoldman10 wrote:

A long time ago I sent them a comic book story I drew and wrote that used some of the characters I created and got that copyrighted. If I create new related characters I have to create another comic story?

Why would you create new characters if you weren't going to use them in a new story?

JGoldman10 wrote:
Can you re-do a comic story and get that copyrighted if you weren't satisfied with the original one?

Sure.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2011 12:35 pm
@joefromchicago,
I have some new characters I want to protect. I have a series I am working on and want to develop so I want to protect ALL my characters.
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Thu 14 Apr, 2011 04:12 am
@joefromchicago,
Interestingly, Mikey Mouse and Mickey Mouse are the same character, according to Google.

Thank you for your help. I haven't copyrighted anything in a long time.
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Mon 18 Apr, 2011 11:15 pm
@joefromchicago,
Model sheets CAN be copyrighted:

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

Model sheets are not typically in the public domain, but are copyrighted material owned by the animation studio which created it. There used to be a lot of model sheets on the internet, however many[who?] studios demanded that they be taken down.

Although model sheets originally are intended for artists who work for the studios that own the characters for which these templates are developed, other artists, such as those who create fan art, profit from them by adapting their characters to their own uses. In addition, parents often download and print model sheets as free coloring books for their children.

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