Copyright Not a Minefield Just for Indies

I originally talked about the dangers of working with existing protected works as an indie developer. Having the means to afford a legal team isn’t a guarantee of immunity, either.

In the Gamasutra news entry Ghost Rider Creator Files Suit Against Take-Two, Others, it seems that Gary Friedrich is literally suing Marvel, Take-Two, and others for making a bad movie based off his work. While the suit claims he has owned the exclusive rights to Ghost Rider since 2001, meaning that the movie was an infringement of his copyright, he is also accusing the defendants of “waste”.

Imagine if you owned the rights, trademarks and copyrights, regarding a popular character. Then imagine that someone makes a movie about the character, butchering parts of it, and then doing a terrible job of advertising. Now your own rights are worth less than they did before the movie was made because people associate this movie with your work. And you never gave them the rights to make the movie in the first place!

It just goes to show you what a minefield licensed properties can be. This situation reminds me of the SCO/Novell/IBM/Linux debacle.

3 comments to Copyright Not a Minefield Just for Indies

  • Although I really doubt his IP rights were anything but enhanced by the film. Honestly. Maybe if they made a porn film out of it, or it something, that would be a legitimate concern (as it would have tightly associated with something that causes a negative reaction with many people). So I don’t think he has much of a case there.

    I mean, Star Trek was pretty much run into the ground, and I doubt Voyager did much to enhance its value… but I believe the only real problem with the IP was that the market became saturated (and bored) with it. Next year (I think) we’ll have a new Star Trek movie, and I think it has the potential to be the most popular ST movie of them all.

    However, if he really did own all film rights, and the movie was made without properly obtaining the license, then he’s owed. Big time. And for a rate viewed as “reasonable” by him and the courts – NOT one previously negotiated upon.

  • Heh, one of the articles mentions that because Marvel didn’t file a copyright with the character, it reverted back to the dude in 2001….that’s an interesting oversight from all those bigwigs.

  • It doesn’t sound to me that he’s so much mad about the way the character was portrayed or the movie made, but the fact they didn’t get a license from him, assuming he is the real copyright holder.

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