The article from the Copyright Office of the United States discusses the Fair Use policy, which distinguishes an image or creative property from something similar without it breaking a law. Under Fair Use, an image can be considered a “parody,” an imitation that is not plagiarism, which allows it to legally exist outside the sue-able realm.
This could be a game-changer for my research, as the extents of Fair Use and Parody laws are potentially the liability for artists who illustrate copyrighted characters. However, to pose a contrast, even the Office themselves recognize and state that the line between Fair Use and Infringement is “unclear and not easily defined,” and proving it will be rather difficult.
A very key notion revealed itself in the process of writing my Definitional essay in regards to copyright: what are the boundaries of artistic liberty? Caricature artists do not get sued, sketch comedy programs on television do not get sued, and there should not be a difference here; the idea is that parody categorization prevents legal action. The issue here is that the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) does not have a specific stated exception for parody as an intellectual property, which Ronan Deazley believes is necessary.
With the parody research, it can be proved that artists are not actually stealing from Marvel by usage of their characters, but are imitating them with no malicious intent. Saturday Night Live, for instance, is among the skit shows that has been getting away with such concepts for years; they do not pay film companies whose movies they parody, nor can they be sued, and they show still makes a profit. Proving artists do something similar would be the most important step to sidestep Marvel’s action.
This New York Times article from last year discusses the conclusion of the Jack Kirby case, in which the estate and children of Jack “The King” Kirby, famed comic artist, sued Marvel over the use and ownership of his characters.
Provides further background and back-up information to show Marvel’s no-nonsense approach to these lawsuits, in addition to the Friedrich case. While Friedrich’s evolved into a case of Marvel suing him, this in turn deals with the opposite, with Kirby’s heirs reacting to the creation of such films like “Thor” based on his characters. Interesting to note the “Disney” credits.
The article address the same issues as many others take with Marvel’s case against Ghost Rider creator Gary Friedrich and copyright issues, but it is cited here for another reason: it provides a key piece of information not noted by the rest, in that Marvel expects Friedrich to not boast that Ghost Rider is his creation, though Marvel recognizes he is (not in print, however), and that he must pay $17,000 as a result of the suit.
The shocking, and sickly wonderful, point to note here is that Marvel us demanding $17,000 from the broke and unemployed Friedrich, who was only making a slight living on selling his Ghost Rider material at conventions in the first place. This certainly paints Marvel in villainous light, and it is interesting noting that the other news sources chose to not address the sanction from the trial.
This Journal article provides definitions of Fair Use and extension history, research, and previous Fair Use case citations; though elaborate, each section is neatly compact and organized enough to be more handy than the actual policy.
Serves a handy, and lengthy, guide to the concepts of Fair Use; this serves a purpose solely of acting as background information, definitions, and research that may not be directly cited in papers, but implied.