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 Question about derivative works.

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Ultimosteve



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PostSubject: Question about derivative works.   Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:16 am

Now, I'm well aware that derivative work can be in the public domain but that doesn't give you the rights to use the story,characters, and/or concepts that are derived from a work that is under copyright. For example this is way the the Fleischer Superman cartoon's fallowing into public doesn't effected Warner Bro copyright on Superman. This makes perfected sense to me but how does this pertain to secondary characters and concepts that make there first appearances in this derivative work?

To put it simply...Can you use a character/concept from a public domain story that is derived from a from a copywritten story?
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Yzz

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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:21 am

Hmm...An intresting question.

Full Disclaimer: I am Not a Lawyer

I'd argue that yes, secondary characters/antagonists could be used without fear of reprisal, as could the general scenario of said work(s). You might want make slight changes to the characters in question, though.

~~Yzz
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argosail

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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Thu Jun 10, 2010 11:05 am

None of the posts on these forums should be taken as professional legal advice.

However, I fully agree with Yzz. In the Superman cartoons, you can use the "Mechanical Monsters" or the "Arctic Giant" or any other elements that did not first appear in DC's comics or some other copyrighted work. Which means, pretty much anything other than Lois Lane or Superman himself.
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Ultimosteve



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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:42 pm

Thanks for both of your reply's; this pretty much what I assumed but its reassuring to here it from someone else.

If all the the facts are strait this could be quite an interesting situation in regards to the Superman Universe. As we all know Superman was a huge hit in 1938. So much of a sensation that he was quickly adapted to different mediums early into the life of the comic. This has resulted in some major elements of Superman's status quo making there first appearances outside of the monthly published comic. Some of which may be in the public domain.

An interesting example would be The Adventures of Superman radio program that debuted in 1940. Most sources placed this program in PD. This show is note worthy for having the first appearances of supporting character Perry White.
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Yzz

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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:33 am

Ultimosteve wrote:
An interesting example would be The Adventures of Superman radio program that debuted in 1940. Most sources placed this program in PD. This show is note worthy for having the first appearances of supporting character Perry White.
Radio seems to be alot more convoluted in regards to PD. The laws vary from state to state, so it could be legal in one state and infringing on copyright in another.

~~Yzz
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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:19 am

Ultimo, it may be possible then that Perry White is a public domain character...but here's the thing...I doubt there's much description of the character on the radio program. Probably the only info you can glean about Perry White is that he's a newspaper editor named Perry White. You don't have a physical image of him or anything, and you couldn't make your physical depictions of him look like any existing DC owned versions of him without being at risk of an infringement claim. Additionally, the name "Perry White" is probably trademarked. So you are just left with..."there once was a newspaper editor." Just kidding. You COULD call him Perry White, the newspaper editor, but he couldn't have anything in common with the comic, movie or tv versions of Perry, which pretty much defeats the purpose if you ask me. Everything recognizable about him would have to come from the radio program and ONLY the radio program (which probably doesn't leave you with much).

Also you have to be careful, because apparently there is evidence that Siegel and Shuster created many of the elements of Superman before their work was published, which means their heirs now own most of the rights to Superman related stuff until 75 years after the creators deaths (you'll only need to wait 60 years). You'd have to check and make sure Perry wasn't one of those elements.
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bchat



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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:46 am

Each published work is treated seperately, so if one element originates in a PD work, then it's Public Domain. If an element found in a PD work appeared first in a still-under-Copyright work, then it's off-limits.

I never understood the fascination with picking apart the Superman Mythos to find-out what might be Public Domain. Aren't there enough characters just like or close enough to Superman already in the Public Domain with which everyone can work with? Dynamic Man & Strongman spring to mind. Besides, all the main elements of Superman are off-limits due to Copyrights, so whatever would be left would be a pale comparison comprised of bits-and-pieces, which doesn't sound all that interesting to me. Better for someone to simply pick another super-strong flying character and go from there.
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Ultimosteve



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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:23 pm

Honestly, for me it's interesting if only for the fun trivia aspect of the subject matter. It really appeals to the comic dork in me. For one reason or another I've always been fascinated by National Publishing (then DC comics..then Warner Bros.) various legal battles to secure there clam on Superman. DC took attack against both Captain Marvel and Wonder Man because they believed that they far to closely resemble own bread winner. They even went after mad for parodying him.

Times have really changed, now it seem like there are dozens of Superman pastiches appearing in comic by ever major comic book publisher (as well as indy). In some ways he taken on the role as mythic archetype of the generic superhero.

I have been tossing around the idea my of developing a all purposes open- source Superman analog. Kind of an all power full superhero This could be used for as lead, supporting, or back ground character. In some it could serve as way of fan's of the “Free Universe” to kind of silently communicated to each other with everyone adding there own spin on this timeless archetype under. I was holding out on talking about my idea because haven't really come up with catchy name and costume for open- source anolog. I then became interested in what elements of the Superman story may be in the PD.
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Yzz

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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:26 am

Ultimosteve wrote:
I have been tossing around the idea my of developing a all purposes open- source Superman analog. Kind of an all power full superhero This could be used for as lead, supporting, or back ground character. In some it could serve as way of fan's of the “Free Universe” to kind of silently communicated to each other with everyone adding there own spin on this timeless archetype under. I was holding out on talking about my idea because haven't really come up with catchy name and costume for open- source anolog. I then became interested in what elements of the Superman story may be in the PD.
I can do a rough representation of costumes/characters with microheroes, if you need help. To distinguish him from Supes, you might want to look at the parts of his mythos that resonate with you the most (For example, I love Fleisher's Superman's shorts, so Fox's Wonder Man is one of my fav PD chars). And always consider that big changes that may also affect the character. If your paragon is female, or Native American, or nigh-immortal, or powered by nuclear energy, or visibly non-human...All these can be used to your advantage.

~~Yzz
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Ultimosteve



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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:50 am

Yeah, your help would be cool. In fact I wouldn't be offended if someone took my idea and beats me to the punch.

I'm also a big fan of Fox's Wonder Man . I thought of having Wonder Comics #1 as part of my analogs unofficial continuity.
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Yzz

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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:46 am

Ultimosteve wrote:
Yeah, your help would be cool. In fact I wouldn't be offended if someone took my idea and beats me to the punch.

I'm also a big fan of Fox's Wonder Man . I thought of having Wonder Comics #1 as part of my analogs unofficial continuity.
Sweet. We could open a thread in New Open Source Characters section and get to brainstormin' with all the community's help.

~~Yzz
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PostSubject: Re: Question about derivative works.   Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:32 am

Ultimosteve, by all means, start a thread in "New Open Source Characters" and lay out some of your basic thoughts and ideas, and we can help you develop them a bit. I will be introducing a powerful "Superman" type to the Free Universe, but his powers and personality are very unique. Also, I'm waiting until I can do a 1 page comic, so that he has a proper first appearance. but we could definitely use a closer Superman analogue, like Liefeld's Supreme or Marvel's Hyperion.
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