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 Post subject: I'm confused about rights and use of characters
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 9:48 am 
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Hello All,

First of all as they tell you to say when you call into a radio show, "Julius, love you, love your show." (Or site as the case my be.)

What I don't understand is if DC or Marvel own the characters, why do they need permission from actors or their estates to do figures based on they way they looked.

So if we want an Adam West Batman or Lou Ferringo Hulk, they get a cut of the action? But why? And how?

On the flip side, correct me if I'm wrong but Adam and Lou can't make appearances dressed up as Batman and the Hulk? Because they don't have permission from DC or Marvel.

I've got an autographed pic from Lou as the Hulk. Did Marvel get a piece of that?

And how close in likeness can they come before the actor can step in and say that looks like them? Some people say that the ML1 Hulk looks like Lou's TV version. Could he sue? Or is it just a matter of how they market it? If they came out with it and called it "TV Show Hulk", he'd have a case, right?

Now how does this work on figures based on artwork? Such as the most recent Super Poseable Spidey. Everyone calls him "McFarlane Spider-Man". Why doesn't Todd get a cut of that if the figure looks like his artwork?


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 Post subject: Re: I'm confused about rights and use of characters
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 11:17 am 
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ChgoMarc wrote:
Now how does this work on figures based on artwork? Such as the most recent Super Poseable Spidey. Everyone calls him "McFarlane Spider-Man". Why doesn't Todd get a cut of that if the figure looks like his artwork?


Addressing just that part of your post, anything Todd McFarlane did for Marvel was under a Work For Hire contract. Meaning, anything Todd produced, from his visual take on Spider-Man to any new characters he created for his own Spidey book, is the property of Marvel and can be used as the company sees fit. That's how most comic creator deals for the big companies work (Image is a notable exception, as I believe the Work For Hire stuff was one of Todd and company's pet peeves when they revolted).

Another good example is Batman's Bane. He was created by writer Chuck Dixon, but DC Comics (a subsidiary of Time Warner) owns Bane. Licensing decisions, and the resulting profits, for Bane are DC's to make, not Dixon's.

-Jason


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 3:23 pm 
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OK, JJJ. That makes sense about Todd and I thought I knew that.

But then why would say Adam West get a roalitity from an action figure based on him portraying a character DC owns?

And at what point is it an "Adam West Batman". What makes the difference in this case? The cowl? What is to stop Adam West from saying that the Silver Age Batman or the Convention exclusive Batman from 2 years ago doesn't look like him? Where do you draw the line?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 4:52 pm 
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Dog Squeezer
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Actors only get involved when it's their specific likeness as the character they portrayed.

In most cases, it also would be tied to the project. So anything that was from a Marvel Movie for example, would require the actor signing off on the likeness (it would all be contracted out, but these days it's unlikely ANY actor would not get a piece of merchandising or at least approval.)

Take Frankenstein, Dracula, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi.

Frankenstein and Dracula the characters are public domain. But the likenesses of Karloff and Lugosi AS those characters is owned by Universal Studios and must additionally be approved by the actors' estates if merchandise is made.

In the case of Sideshow for example, they do the Universal Monsters with the specific actor likenesses, so they need the rights from Universal and the approval of the actors' estates.

But in the past Universal has made generic Universal Monsters toys that only used the characters as portrayed in the Universal films, but without the specific actor likenesses (Bendys, Plush, etc...)

Licensing has gotten very complex!

SpyMagician


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2005 9:03 pm 
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Yep, that sums it up. :wink:

Boiling it down for your specific example, Chgo, DC owns Batman, but Adam West owns his own face.

The vast majority of WWE wrestlers, on the other hand, don't own their own likenesses; the company does. So, while the Superstars get a portion of the proceeds from any merchandise in or featuring their image, they don't get to make the deals deciding where their likeness is used, or if it's used at all.

-Jason


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:45 pm 
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OK. Let's look at the Batman movie figures. Can you tell much difference in the faces from Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, and the new guy?

Does anyone think that the Bruce Banner figure that came with Gamma Punch Hulk looks like Eric Bana? Wonder if he does?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 2:00 pm 
ChgoMarc wrote:
OK. Let's look at the Batman movie figures. Can you tell much difference in the faces from Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, and the new guy?

Does anyone think that the Bruce Banner figure that came with Gamma Punch Hulk looks like Eric Bana? Wonder if he does?


Good point but it doesn't matter. It's based on the card art. If the card art shows a picture of Keaton versus Clooney versus Bale - then that actor gets a slice whether they all used the same sculpt or not. Because the company is IMPLYING that it was based on that actor's portrayal.

Additionally - this is all part of the licensing & merchandising negotiations that happen LONG before an actor signs on for the movie.

In the case of Adam West - there are at least 4 legit claims to the rights for the old show. That's why the show is not out on DVD yet. (Though there is currently a big push to get it happening) But to release an Adam West version of Batman you'd have to have Adam west and TW on the same page and agreeing on a split. Adam has always expressed interest in this while TW are not really big on sharing profits with anyone. Not when they can wait until the actor dies, then they deal with the estate who, not having any more income coming in - are in a more eager position to bargain.
Sad but true.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 6:02 pm 
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ChgoMarc wrote:
OK. Let's look at the Batman movie figures. Can you tell much difference in the faces from Micheal Keaton, Val Kilmer, and the new guy?

Does anyone think that the Bruce Banner figure that came with Gamma Punch Hulk looks like Eric Bana? Wonder if he does?


Well the Keaton Batman with the removable cowl clearly has a keaton likeness with the curly hair and pursed lips.

Even the Kilmer bats all had a distinctly different look to the mouth than the Keaton ones.

And don't forget, we're in the age of laser scanning so in some cases the likenesses are even a bigger issue as you literally need the actor to sit for a scan!

And in the end, even if the final product is off, the key is wheter legally the actor retained likeness approval and if the company set out to do a generic character or a specific likeness, even if they didn't hit the mark in the end.

SpyMagician

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