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View Full Version : Tech Tight - Copyright violation?


Archived Post
10-10-2011, 11:31 AM
I was looking at the new tech tights and one struck a cord of familiarity in what is left of my brain. So I did a little searching:
One of the designs is remarkably similar to Wonder Man(at least the chest portion) as drawn by George Perez when he was illustrating the Avengers (many years ago): Could this be considered a copyright violation or just a costume violation?

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 11:37 AM
If you make the character with that look, then yes, it is a copyright violation.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 11:58 AM
I noticed that as soon as I saw it.

I don't thinkl anyone will emulate that look thought. That was one ugly design for Wondy. :p

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 12:27 PM
It's similar, but not exact. This one has lines going straight up and down, instead of intersecting diagonal lines.

I mean, I 'd call out the Punisher one that came with one of the tights pack, if anything.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 12:32 PM
But could Cryptic get called on it by Marvel?

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 12:33 PM
There are a lot of tights patterns or costume parts that, if colored a certain way would be a copy of an existing character's costume. The big lightning bolt from the Golden Age set, or the star shield from the same set come to mind. The skull chest from one of the tights sets also reminds me of The Punisher if colored a certain way, etc.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 12:42 PM
But could Cryptic get called on it by Marvel?

Probably not, the costumes are similar but not quite the same. The W and M pattern on Wonderman is a lot more synchronous and distinct. On the Cryptic one, the M is not quite an M.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 12:45 PM
There are a lot of tights patterns or costume parts that, if colored a certain way would be a copy of an existing character's costume. The big lightning bolt from the Golden Age set, or the star shield from the same set come to mind. The skull chest from one of the tights sets also reminds me of The Punisher if colored a certain way, etc.

Yes for most generic patterns that is true, but this one is a specific pattern since it stands for Wonder Man (the top half of the chest is the "W" and the bottom half of the chest is the "M", with a diamond formed by the two letters meeting).

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:08 PM
On the CO costume i can only see two V (one upside down...) on the chest, and two X on the legs... no W and no M to see there. :confused:

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:18 PM
Yes for most generic patterns that is true, but this one is a specific pattern since it stands for Wonder Man (the top half of the chest is the "W" and the bottom half of the chest is the "M", with a diamond formed by the two letters meeting).

Hmm.. I see what you're talking about. I still think that it is generic enough provided the devs stay on top of people creating direct clones, that we'll be ok...

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:18 PM
I took a few seconds to illustrate the similarity in the chest piece:
It's very close...
note: I didn't enter this character in the game just created the costume for a screenshot then exited.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:24 PM
I took a few seconds to illustrate the similarity in the chest piece:
It's very close...
note: I didn't enter this character in the game just created the costume for a screenshot then exited.

Ahhh, not even close.

<.<
>.>
o_O

But, we do have others. It's all in how you use it, I guess.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:30 PM
Ahhh, not even close.

<.<
>.>
o_O

But, we do have others. It's all in how you use it, I guess.

This^

The same argument about his particular tight piece being a "copyright violation" could be made about the Webbed top my main is wearing... *points to siggy* ...being a Spiderman "copyright violation", or just about more than a dozen other costume pieces that could potentially be used to create clones in this game. Whether or not there is an actual copyright infringement depends on how you use them.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:32 PM
The same argument about his particular tight piece being a "copyright violation" could be made about the Webbed top my main is wearing... *points to siggy* ...being a Spiderman "copyright violation", or just about more than a dozen other costume pieces that could potentially be used to create clones in this game. Whether or not there is an actual copyright infringement depends on how you use them.

Agreed. Copyright violation doesn't necessarily lie in the piece itself, but rather HOW the pieces are used.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:40 PM
Agreed. Copyright violation doesn't necessarily lie in the piece itself, but rather HOW the pieces are used.

Bingo. I think it was KenpoJuJitsu3 who once said, in a similar "is this copyright" thread that if Cryptic removed every piece that was a "possible violation", we'd more or less be running around almost naked and have less character creativity options than WoW.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 01:47 PM
Bingo. I think it was KenpoJuJitsu3 who once said, in a similar "is this copyright" thread that if Cryptic removed every piece that was a "possible violation", we'd more or less be running around almost naked and have less character creativity options than WoW.

Nah.. cuz if we were almost naked, we'd be clones of Adam & Eve...

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 02:20 PM
I know how a player uses a costume piece could lead to a copyright violation, I was just wondering if in the design itself could Cryptic be held liable.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 02:25 PM
I know how a player uses a costume piece could lead to a copyright violation, I was just wondering if in the design itself could Cryptic be held liable.

If they made a piece that could not be anything other than a copyright infringement, then sure - like if they made the Superman S or Batman emblem. Y'know.. add in the exact Green Lantern symbol and there's no denying what it actually is...

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 02:35 PM
It depends on what is copyrighted.

The overall look of Superman is. The S Shield is.

Red boots are not.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 02:36 PM
If they made a piece that could not be anything other than a copyright infringement, then sure - like if they made the Superman S or Batman emblem. Y'know.. add in the exact Green Lantern symbol and there's no denying what it actually is...

Which is why I asked this in the first place because of the "W" "M" pattern (I thought it was pretty unique when I first saw it years ago). Maybe they didn't see it when they created it, or subconsciously they really liked that old costume of Wondy's, and were afraid of telling anyone, so it unknowingly slipped out of their minds..... of course now their secret is out.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 02:40 PM
Which is why I asked this in the first place because of the "W" "M" pattern (I thought it was pretty unique when I first saw it years ago). Maybe they didn't see it when they created it, or subconsciously they really liked that old costume of Wondy's, and were afraid of telling anyone, so it unknowingly slipped out of their minds..... of course now their secret is out.

Well, I suppose it depends upon how you look at that pattern - one could argue that it is a diamond that has the lines continue passed their point of intersection. Another could argue that they are an upside down and regular V intersecting.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 05:38 PM
Eh, yeah...could be ripping him off, but personally why would anyone want to? It was a fugly colorcombo and ripping off Squirrel Girl would be FAR more effective.

Afterall she beat Dr Doom...an SG ripoff here could slaughter Dr Destroyer in a matter of seconds...>SECONDS.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 05:48 PM
Eh, yeah...could be ripping him off, but personally why would anyone want to? It was a fugly colorcombo and ripping off Squirrel Girl would be FAR more effective.

Afterall she beat Dr Doom...an SG ripoff here could slaughter Dr Destroyer in a matter of seconds...>SECONDS.

Except, going by Squirrel Girl's usual means of doing things, like when she took down Thanos, it would only be able to occur offpanel/offscreen with nobody but the GM's watching.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 10:53 PM
If you make the character with that look, then yes, it is a copyright violation.

TLDR version is contained in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_CCLwD4LFQ) with a lawyer who specializes in this talking about the differences.

No, it wouldn't be a copyright violation. It wouldn't even come close to a copyright violation. You know what is a copyright violation? The scan of the comic book page posted to ask if the tech tights constitute a copyright violation. However, it falls under fair use for commentary, so it's technically exempt.

Again, if you make a character with the look in that scan, it would not be a copyright violation. It would however be a TRADEMARK violation.

What's the difference? Well copyright is Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/index.html). Trademarks are technically a patent and are handled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/) or USPTO. If you aren't from the United States of America, don't **** an attitude about my referencing the US version of these things. This game is developed in and operates out of America and thus is covered under US law, not the laws of Timbuktu.

I am not a lawyer, so the following might be in accurate, but it's as I have understand and have studied it. I'm a video game developer, so it behooves me to know things like this.


Copyrights are set to expire after a certain length of time following the death of the creator.
Copyrights cannot be diluted.
Copyrights that haven't expired can always be enforced, no matter how many people have violated without the copyright being enforced.
Copyrights do not have to be filed for. They're granted upon creation of a work thanks to a copyright act in the 1970s.
Copyrights cover only individual works of art, literature, film, etc, not ideas. So your drawing of Wolverine is copyright to you, not Marvel. But the trademark is still Marvel's.



Trademarks and patents expire within 20 years of being granted, assuming they're even granted in the first place.
Trademarks and patents can be diluted, so the more they're violated without the owner enforcing the trademark in court, the less enforceable they become. Sometimes companies change their name because of this. Take Sci-Fi Channel now known as Syfy Channel for instace. That name had been used on so many things and so much without their permission that they couldn't enforce the name if they tried.
Trademarks and patents have to be filed for. If they aren't granted, they aren't valid.
Trademarks and patents cover ideas such as "a guy in yellow and black tights with indestructible metal claws that come out of his hand"


Why does it matter? Simply put, when people confuse two things, they look idiotic. I'm not saying they're idiots for confusing them, I'm simply saying that it has the appearance of being idiotic in regards to this issue. Not to mention that if something is worth saying, it's worth saying properly. Also, if you care enough to worry about this sort of thing, you should care enough to know the difference.

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 10:58 PM
The Punisher top, the Thor/Doom top in the new tech tights, the X-Men homage top, the webby tights...there's a bunch of stuff that could be copyright if used the wrong way. Hence why we supposedly report clones, to keep Cryptic out of hot water

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 11:13 PM
I also notice the resemblence with that costume piece and Wonder Man. However the one I was thinking not the one in OP but green/red horror of a costume once worn by Wonder Man. I am using that costume for my Lemurian hero Water Master tho'. :D

As for question. No I don't think it's a copright violation. Altho' it doesn't matter how I think but how Marvel Vultures would think. Anyway I don't think anyone will try to copy Wonder Man in game, that guy's the most crappy hero in Marvel history and probably any copy of Wonder Man will get lost in Hulk crowd. :rolleyes:

Archived Post
10-10-2011, 11:36 PM
No, it wouldn't be a copyright violation. [...] It would however be a TRADEMARK violation.
Good to see that I'm not the only one slightly miffed at people mixing these two up.

A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to the creator of an original work or their assignee for a limited period of time upon disclosure of the work. This includes the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. In most jurisdictions copyright arises upon fixation and does not need to be registered.
[...]
Initially copyright law applied to only the copying of books. Over time other uses such as translations and derivative works were made subject to copyright. Copyright now covers a wide range of works, including maps, sheet music, dramatic works, paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, sound recordings, motion pictures and computer programs.
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
[...]
A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements.
While usually lumped together under the moniker "Intellectual Property", copyright and trademarks regulate quite different things - and one is given automatically and the other needs to be applied for and defended.

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 06:12 AM
That was one ugly design for Wondy. :p

Can't that be said about every single design he's ever had?

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 06:27 AM
I noticed that as soon as I saw it.

I don't thinkl anyone will emulate that look thought. That was one ugly design for Wondy. :p

Damnit!!! I have to change that now??? But I added it to like 5 of my characters!!! That costume made me!!!

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 08:22 AM
I was looking at the new tech tights and one struck a cord of familiarity in what is left of my brain. So I did a little searching:
One of the designs is remarkably similar to Wonder Man(at least the chest portion) as drawn by George Perez when he was illustrating the Avengers (many years ago): Could this be considered a copyright violation or just a costume violation?

I just need to applaud your sleuthing skills and recognize your nerd credentials.

Bravo sir (or madame), bravo. <golf clap>

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 11:32 AM
I just need to applaud your sleuthing skills and recognize your nerd credentials.

Bravo sir (or madame), bravo. <golf clap>

Thx. Long time comic collector (now ret. for the most part). Sad thing is - Which is worse? The fact that I remembered Wonder Man's costume (which I still prefer over the Marshall Thompson/Daktari jacket) or the fact that some superheroes have to wear their initials on their chest (sorry Simon it had to be said...).
Simon did have the second worst tailor in the Marvel Universe.....(remember Captain Ultra?)

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 03:22 PM
Good to see that I'm not the only one slightly miffed at people mixing these two up.

I've developed this neurotic twitch whenever someone confuses the two.

I'll make it simple for people.

Copyright Violation:
Me posting the following page from a comic book is a copyright violation. (though technically exempt since it's fair use for commentary purposes.
16755

Trademark Violation:
The following is a trademark violation since the character design is intentionally designed to cause confusion with the above trademarked Marvel comic book hero.
16757

Got it?

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 04:24 PM
The way I usually explain it to people is: You cannot copyright an idea. What you can copyright is literary works, artworks, etc. containing that idea. Characters, places, etc. that are in your literary/art/whatever-work can be trademarked, but that doesn't stop people from copying the idea and putting a new coat of paint on it.


For example, Lord of the Rings. You can't copyright the idea of elves, hobbits, dwarves, wizards, etc. You can trademark Legolas, Bilbo, Balin, and Gandalf, and you can copyright the book you wrote about them. Copyrighting the book prevents someone else from copying the book in part or in its entirety, and publishing that somewhere without your consent. Trademarking your characters prevents another company from making a silly blonde elf guy with a bow named Legolas and publishing him in a book, but it doesn't prevent a company from making a silly blonde elf guy with a bow named Ponts (same idea as Legolas, but with a different coat of paint).

I became interested in copyright and trademark when I started designing a board game. I learned that basically, someone could copy my game mechanics (idea) almost to a T, but if they write it all in their own language, it's not a copyright violation. If they used some of the characters that I created, then I could harass them about trademark, but not copyright. If they don't use my characters... then all the time I spent creating, testing, and refining said rules are pretty much fair game.

Archived Post
10-11-2011, 07:39 PM
I became interested in copyright and trademark when I started designing a board game. I learned that basically, someone could copy my game mechanics (idea) almost to a T, but if they write it all in their own language, it's not a copyright violation. If they used some of the characters that I created, then I could harass them about trademark, but not copyright. If they don't use my characters... then all the time I spent creating, testing, and refining said rules are pretty much fair game.

Well, I have some experience in tabletop RPGs that may apply to boardgames. You can patent the rules and you're set. But patents only last 20 years, and they're pretty expensive to apply for. But at any rate, you could fly under that protection. Just a friendly heads up incase you weren't already aware (which you probably were).

Also, glad to see a third person who understands the differences. You and stjobe always were among the smart ones.

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 09:01 AM
I've developed this neurotic twitch whenever someone confuses the two.

I'll make it simple for people.

Copyright Violation:
Me posting the following page from a comic book is a copyright violation. (though technically exempt since it's fair use for commentary purposes.
16755

Trademark Violation:
The following is a trademark violation since the character design is intentionally designed to cause confusion with the above trademarked Marvel comic book hero.
16757

Got it?

Unless you called the character "Trademark Violation" in which case it would be parody and A Okay!

:D

(this is a joke and intended to be read as such)

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 09:48 AM
Well, I have some experience in tabletop RPGs that may apply to boardgames. You can patent the rules and you're set. But patents only last 20 years, and they're pretty expensive to apply for. But at any rate, you could fly under that protection. Just a friendly heads up incase you weren't already aware (which you probably were).

Also, glad to see a third person who understands the differences. You and stjobe always were among the smart ones.

Yeah the patent would be pricey, but I'm altogether not really worried about game mechanic ideas being "borrowed" from my game. I doubt a straight ripoff would ever happen, but if some of the ideas I came up with could fit into someone else's game and possibly make it better, I say go ahead. I know I've gotten inspiration and ideas from other games, so it's only fair. :)

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 09:52 AM
Well, I have some experience in tabletop RPGs that may apply to boardgames. You can patent the rules and you're set. But patents only last 20 years, and they're pretty expensive to apply for. But at any rate, you could fly under that protection. Just a friendly heads up incase you weren't already aware (which you probably were).

Also, glad to see a third person who understands the differences. You and stjobe always were among the smart ones.

Why do I get the feeling you just called Dardove stupid?

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 10:27 AM
Nah.. cuz if we were almost naked, we'd be clones of Adam & Eve...

Adam and Eve are not copyrighted.

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 12:55 PM
Adam and Eve are not copyrighted.

sigh. Trademarked. Adam and Eve are not Trademarked.

I normally don't harp on about this subject after that one time, since there are plenty of others who will, but it's like, literally, half a page up what the difference between copyright and trademark is.

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 01:08 PM
This game is developed in and operates out of America and thus is covered under US law, not the laws of Timbuktu.
Or China.

Sorry, but I feel it necessary to throw that in any time copyright or trademark is discussed, because so very many times I've had to have the conversation with someone whose legal knowledge comes from Law & Order reruns, who pops up with, "They're owned by PWI now, and PWI is a Chinese company, and copyright/trademark laws are different in China!" (Usually they just say "copyright", because they aren't often aware there's a difference.)

First off, no, they're not. There just isn't much interest in enforcement there. Secondly, Cryptic may be owned by PWI, but the company still operates out of California (which is why the ToS, which most violators profess no interest in reading anyway, specifies that all disputes shall be adjudicated in a San Francisco court), and is subject to the laws of the State of California and the United States of America.

So unless you can make the character different enough to claim it's an homage, or silly enough to be a parody (like my own Captain Americlown), you're leaving Cryptic open to a lawsuit unless they slap you down hard.

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 01:12 PM
Its not a copyright violation, it would be a trademark violation. Copyright only applies to a work, not a general look.

Since Wonderman hasn't worn that outfit in decades, its probably out of trademark too. (Trademark needs the holder to 'defend' their trademark including active use - once a look is no longer actively used for some period, usually 5 years, the trademark is no longer protected). So as long as it was only a 'looks like' with nothing referencing wonderman in the name or bio, its _probably_ legally ok.

Edit: wow, totally ninjaed, at least in part, apparently need to read the whole thread.

More edit, being somewhat useful:

Trademarks and patents expire within 20 years of being granted, assuming they're even granted in the first place.

Trademarks last indefinitely so long as they are used, and lapse after a period of non-use, typically 5 years.


Trademarks and patents have to be filed for. If they aren't granted, they aren't valid.
Trademarks don't need to be granted. Like copyright, trademark is implicit in the use of any logo or design (so long as it continues to be used and is defended as a trademark when challenged). In the US, claimed but non-registered trademarks use superscripted TM, registered trademarks use (R) (R in a circle). (Registered trademarks receive more protection and have more ground to build a case on. Note that not needing to register a trademark seems to be a facet of common-law countries - ie, US, UK, and former British Colonies).


Trademarks and patents cover ideas such as "a guy in yellow and black tights with indestructible metal claws that come out of his hand"

Trademarks generally cover designs which convey point of origin. Ie, the McDonald's M is a trademarked symbol, so when you see it you know the product is from McDonald's. The idea of wolverine isn't trademarked, but his distinct visual look can be (and probably is).

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 03:00 PM
I became interested in copyright and trademark when I started designing a board game. I learned that basically, someone could copy my game mechanics (idea) almost to a T, but if they write it all in their own language, it's not a copyright violation. If they used some of the characters that I created, then I could harass them about trademark, but not copyright. If they don't use my characters... then all the time I spent creating, testing, and refining said rules are pretty much fair game.


like how parker brothers (or whoever makes it these days) can't copyright the game Monopoly, but they can copyright the rulebook, so that anybody who wants to can put out their own version of it as long as they write the rules themselves and don't use the same names/terms/etc.

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 03:10 PM
like how parker brothers (or whoever makes it these days) can't copyright the game Monopoly, but they can copyright the rulebook, so that anybody who wants to can put out their own version of it as long as they write the rules themselves and don't use the same names/terms/etc.

Basically, yeah. Except if you stick -opoly in there somewhere, you might owe them money. But that's a special case, I think. I could be off on this. But I'm pretty sure you could get away with calling it "Real Estate Game That Isn't Very Fun At All." ;)

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 05:24 PM
I had a quick look and it seems here in Australia, Copyright laws are quite different to those you guys stated in America so i'm not exactly sure where people outside of the USA stand etc..

Archived Post
10-12-2011, 05:31 PM
I had a quick look and it seems here in Australia, Copyright laws are quite different to those you guys stated in America so i'm not exactly sure where people outside of the USA stand etc..

The game is made in America and hosted on American servers, so thus follows American law statutes.

Archived Post
10-13-2011, 02:20 PM
stuff

Thank you for the corrections. I'll make a note of them. Sorry about clipping out what you said in the quote, just trying to be brief.

Trademarks generally cover designs which convey point of origin. Ie, the McDonald's M is a trademarked symbol, so when you see it you know the product is from McDonald's. The idea of wolverine isn't trademarked, but his distinct visual look can be (and probably is).

That's exactly what I was trying to say, just I couldn't find the words to articulate it clearly.

Basically, yeah. Except if you stick -opoly in there somewhere, you might owe them money. But that's a special case, I think. I could be off on this. But I'm pretty sure you could get away with calling it "Real Estate Game That Isn't Very Fun At All." ;)

I'm going to make a superhero/supervillain board game where you vie to control various dark alleyways. Instead of money, you hand out a savage beating relative to the level of crimes that go on at that space on the board. It's closer to Go For Broke, which is Parker Brothers' own parody of Monopoly. I'll call it Metropoli and then let DC and Parker Brothers duke it out over who gets to sue me first.