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      CommentAuthorthom_wong
    • CommentTimeNov 29th 2007 edited
     (54.1)
    So I've been looking around online for an explanation of why Black Dossier is not being shipped outside of the United States, and everything I find leaves me wanting a more thorough explanation. I recently graduated from law school and currently work in intellectual property, and even so I'm finding it hard to follow the copyright discussion around this work.

    If anyone can lend some insight that would be great.
  1.  (54.2)
    Interesting, another one (other then me).

    I own a single book that discusses British copyright law prior to treaty standardization, and it is currently hiding in a box I have not seen since law school. At moments like this I realize how little I know about the unique factors in British law on these issues, and how dead little I know regarding any international works prior to Berne enforcement.

    My impression is the fog you now see is in fact the fog everyone (in the US) sees when trying sort old international copyright - including WB lawyers. The copyright issue looks uncertain, and the lawyers at Warners were spooked off by someone or something and decided, for now, the sales of the book where not worth the expense of sorting it out.

    Anyway, not an answer because I have the same question as you.

    We need an English IP person on this forum.
  2.  (54.3)
    It's my understanding that the problems around BLACK DOSSIER came down to:

    1) public domain covers different periods in US and UK law -- things in PD in the US aren't necessarily PD in the UK.

    2) Paul Levitz had concerns about the content that transcended certain legal clearances about the referenced materials therein.
  3.  (54.4)
    Yeah, it seems oddly hard to pin down the status in clear and concise way for characters created prior to 1988/Berne*. And such lack of clarity is so enjoyed in the profession.

    In addition, case law, on character based copyright, is sorta messy compared to more discrete fixations; I think we (US centric IP attorneys) get a bit deer in the headlights when international characters come up in regards to their status in their home country.

    I presume you mean concerns about statutory issues regarding sexual content may have been an issue for publication in the UK?

    Anyway thanks Warren.

    * For people's interest: Berne dates from the 1800s but implementation, WPO and so on was sorted between the 1960-90s. Both the UK and the US dragged their feet for years on many things - or well, the UK delayed and the US made demands.
    • CommentAuthoreuchrid
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (54.5)
    So why were previous trades distributed internationally, but not this one? I've heard that the content is more graphic, are they concerned that it's more likely to be censored because of that?
    •  
      CommentAuthorlamuella
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (54.6)
    euchrid, one reason why previous trades were distributed internationally is that the characters were considerably older and less likely to still be under any form of copyright. None of the creators or children of creators of characters used in the first two volumes are still alive. I could be wrong on this, but this is how it seems to me.
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      CommentAuthorcjh
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007 edited
     (54.7)
    I think that one reason why Black Dossier is being treated differently (IANAL however) is because there are elements of the story referenced that aren't actually in public domain, such as the materials taken from 1984. Obviously I could be wrong on this, but from my reading it seemed that there was more non-public domain material referenced in this book than in the others.
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      CommentAuthorLee Newman
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (54.8)
    I have a question... Rich Johnston says that shops in England are selling it. Are these copies that were bought from US companies that are then being sold in England or was there a version released there?
  4.  (54.9)
    I know of one UK shop that had copies. They wouldn't reveal how they got copies (they said it was by magic), but it certainly wasn't above board, so apologies for not revealing the location. I got a copy from Barnes and Noble during a recent trip to the US, and though Moore is very careful to obscure the identities of some of the characters (Emma Peel and James Bond are only referred to by their first names, for instance), it's plainly obvious who they are, and that's not even the beginning of it. Gerry Anderson TV shows, Dan Dare, The Prisoner; there's a lot of stuff that would cause trouble over here.
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      CommentAuthorHellstorm
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (54.10)
    Anyone have any opinion regarding this piece from Rich Johnston's LITG?

    "I have been informed by people physically close to DC's legal department that they had, with a few recommended minor tweaks to character names, cleared "The Black Dossier" for international release in all areas. However Paul Levitz, who had expected the department to come to a different conclusion, did not accept their judgement and made his own."

    Is Levitz holding a grudge due to Alan's comments about the release of V for Vendetta, and his decision to take LOEG (post-Black Dossier) to Top Shelf?
  5.  (54.11)
    ...... so no golliwog ( sp? ) action figures ?
    •  
      CommentAuthor46&2
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (54.12)
    This is a subject that intrigues me to the point where I have my nose in every book which may or may not explain. One book is a bit tough to get a hold of but I'm still searching for it.

    There are plenty international (by international I mean US and UK for the sake of this discussion) Public Domain characters out there it's just tricky to find them. One of the reasons I love the US is because we are the most liberal when it comes to these sort of issues, I think. For instance the UK has moral clauses and I don't believe they have as broad a fair-use policy as we do, though it could change in the US if the people here let it slip.

    From what I understand, and I may be wrong, the morals clause effects even characters out of copyright and exercises strict boundaries on what one can and can't do with a character. For instance, using a character to write pornography might be excluded, no matter how tastefully it's written.

    And there is no such thing as "Character Copyright" in the US, but there are Trademark laws which restrict use of characters out of copyright. Which is why Mr. Ellis couldn't use Tarzan or Tom Swift for his wonderful Planetary story.

    What's further confusing, and i'll shut up in a bit, is that Moore used characters like Hawley Griffin and The Time Traveller in the UK who I believe are still under copyright for another 5 or more years in the UK.
    •  
      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (54.13)
    I'm waiting for Spider Jerusalem to become public domain.
  6.  (54.14)
    I can't understand why Moore could use Griffin either. Is merely calling him Hawley Griffin enough to dodge a bullet? As for the movie, Wikipedia says the character was renamed because of the Universal movie The Invisible Man, so even if the original Wells book wasn't an impediment, why didn't Moore come a cropper because of that? I'm all confused.

    It's interesting you bring up the morals clause, 46&2, because even above and beyond the trouble Moore had with Great Ormond Street Hospital over Lost Girls, how did he get away with anything in that magnificent book?

    I'm waiting for Spider Jerusalem to become public domain.

    Open source fictional characters by Warren Ellis! There has to be a market for Desolation Jones/Doktor Sleepless slash out there.
  7.  (54.15)
    I'm waiting for Spider Jerusalem to become public domain.


    Plan on living a very long time do you?
    •  
      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (54.16)
    <blockquote>Plan on living a very long time do you?

    Just planning on outliving Warren. Anyone got another cigarette for him?
    •  
      CommentAuthor46&2
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (54.17)
    I can't understand why Moore could use Griffin either. Is merely calling him Hawley Griffin enough to dodge a bullet? As for the movie, Wikipedia says the character was renamed because of the Universal movie The Invisible Man, so even if the original Wells book wasn't an impediment, why didn't Moore come a cropper because of that? I'm all confused.


    I couldn't tell you why he was able to use Griffin in the UK, other than surmising that he asked permission or payed for the use and never had to mention it. The use of the Character in the US, however, was not in conflict with any laws I know about. The reason the name of the character was changed in the film was, I think, because the Wells character is still in copyright in the UK, and the movie was distributed there too wasnt it? Also, to avoid a lawsuit from Universal, which does not own the character rights, but has the money to sue for the sake of suing. The only thing Universal has the rights to is the changes in the story they made in the 1933 film. Which may include his smoking jacket, gauze face-mask and glasses. Did the character wear that in the novel? I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read it yet.

    It's interesting you bring up the morals clause, 46&2, because even above and beyond the trouble Moore had with Great Ormond Street Hospital over Lost Girls, how did he get away with anything in that magnificent book?


    Not every character has a morals clause attatched to it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorthom_wong
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (54.18)
    Thanks for the responses, although I must admit I'm still in the dark. I'm not sure the U.S. is the copyright playground it might be (RIAA/MPAA anyone?). There is obviously a fine line between artistic freedom and ensuring creatives are properly compensated for their work, one that Moore might be playing with here. At the very least it should make stodgy legal discussions a little more interesting.
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      CommentAuthor46&2
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2007
     (54.19)
    Thanks for the responses, although I must admit I'm still in the dark. I'm not sure the U.S. is the copyright playground it might be (RIAA/MPAA anyone?). There is obviously a fine line between artistic freedom and ensuring creatives are properly compensated for their work, one that Moore might be playing with here. At the very least it should make stodgy legal discussions a little more interesting.


    The RIAA and MPAA are just silly, and too old-fashioned to grasp the potential of technological advancements. Ironically, each of them have been guilty of not properly compensating artists/actors for their work at one time or another.

    I agree Moore seems to be crossing the line in certain ways and it is dangerous, it could conceivably cause some sort of backlash. I, however, don't think he's cheating anyone out of their royalties or anything, at least not purposely.
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      CommentAuthorHellstorm
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2007
     (54.20)
    Ah yes, the good ol' U.S. of A. - home of ever increasing copyright terms, fighting the good fight against the public domain.

    Thumbs Down

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