Public Domain Questions

#1 Posted by PikminMania (4628 posts) - - Show Bio

I have a couple of questions that I would like to be answered about public domain characters.
 
Is there a way to buy and copyright them as your own?
 
Can you put a public domain's character's name on the cover of a comic?
 
How are SHAZAM and The Marvel Family public domain?
 
Could you make action figures, or even movies of public domain characters and not get sued?
 
I would appreciate if these could be answered. THANKS!

#2 Posted by KidSupreme (829 posts) - - Show Bio

@PikminMania: Hey whats up I like your questions

01. Is there a way to buy and copyright them as your own? Answer I was told is No, cause they are orphaned by the original company (Most likely due to going out of business or not keeping up with copyright and Trademark laws) it technically belongs to everyone from what ever country you are from. You can make a comic book and not worry about paying royalties.

04. Can you put a public domain's character's name on the cover of a comic? & 03. How are SHAZAM and The Marvel Family public domain? That depends on some characters. Example I was told DC did not keep up with copyright laws for (Shazam/CaptainMarvel) and I was told that you can make a Comic book using the character but you can NOT write SHAZAM on the cover. (In theory you can not even name it Captain Marvel cause Marvel own the rights to that name) But you can call it whatever you want and still have in the inside of the comic (Shazam/CaptainMarvel), apparently that is LEGAL (I would still talk to a lawyer first, just to be on the safe side) but this is what I was explained.

05. Could you make action figures, or even movies of public domain characters and not get sued? In theory yes you can make action figures, or even movies of public domain characters and NOT get sued... (I would still talk to a lawyer first)

I hope this helps.

#3 Posted by PikminMania (4628 posts) - - Show Bio

@KidSupreme: THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Seriously, I'm glad after 3 months of nothing someone helped me.

#4 Posted by KidSupreme (829 posts) - - Show Bio

@PikminMania: You are more then welcome. The only reason I know this information is because I myself want to start a comic book company using many Public Domain Characters. If you plan on starting something let me know I would like to help any way I can.

#5 Posted by PikminMania (4628 posts) - - Show Bio

@KidSupreme:

I'm too young right now, I'm just coming up with stories for them so if I ever get a career in the future I could use thews stories I came up with.

#6 Posted by Altarbo (11 posts) - - Show Bio

I hope your stories are incredible. :)

I'm posting a bit late, but I thought this might be a bit of help to you.

In the US copyright law recognizes several types of "works" that are each treated differently:

Original works are what you create from scratch. For example, if you creator your own characters and settings and write a comic from them, you've created an original work. As soon as you create one, you automatically own the copyright for it, unless you were paid by some one else to create it.

Derivative works are something that is created based on an original work. The law is some what fuzzy about when exactly can we say that something is a derivative work of the original or something is an original work that was just inspired by the original. In a derivative work, neither people fully own the copyrights. The owners of the rights for the original work _and_ the derivative work must agree to do anything with it.

This applies to your query, because you're considering making a comic based on work that is in the public domain. After you create your comics based on the old school public domain comics, any one else can come along make their own comics based on thos same old school public domain comics you used. BUT, no one can come along and make their own comics based the comics you made unless you say they can.

For example, the original Black Terror comics lapsed into the public domain. DC, AC comics, Marvel (arguably), Alan Moore, Broken Soul Press, and Image comics were all to make derivative works based on those old school public domain comics without having to get any body's approval. Right now we can make a story based on those old school Black Terror comics and publish it. However, no one at DC can star writing a comic based Alan Moore's Black Terror, because Alan Moore own the rights to it. Alan Moore can't make a comic about the Punisher (inspired by the Black Terror, and arguably a derivative work) unless he's doing for Marvel who own the copyrights to their work.

Good luck,

Robert Jones

#7 Posted by dad123 (1 posts) - - Show Bio

how can i do a project featuring the public domain golden age superheroes and villains?

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.