Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Gary Friedrich & Ghost Rider by Barry Pearl
A legal point has come out regarding the Friedrich/Ghost Rider thing that I wanted to mention. I am only expressing what I believe the law is, much to my surprise. I spoke to a New York Supreme Court Judge, on several occasions, about this, twenty years ago. A small comic book store opened called the “Batcave” and DC went after them to change their name or shut down. They owners were on TV saying why are the big guys going after us? We are just little guys?
So I asked the judge. First, he told me he helped write part of this law. Apparently, when legislators need to do technical stuff in their laws, they often asked judges to help get it right.
The government does not enforce copyright laws. Piracy yes that is criminal law, copyright and patents, no that is civil law. They leave enforcement to the copyright holders. And the law states that there cannot be selective prosecution. In other words the must, to keep their copyright, go after everyone or the courts will not hear their cases.
Further, the copyright holder must legally go after everyone in the order they found them. In other words, if they do not go after the small “Batcave” in NY if a chain of Batcaves opens in New Jersey, those new owners can say to the court, “they can’t go after us until and unless they go after them.” This is often why in copyright cases the someone says to the court, “Hey, they let so and so” get away with it, they have to either go after them or forget about us.”
So when Warner’s heard about Chuck Jones selling artwork of their characters they had to work something out with him. Yes, Warner’s is greedy, but if they didn’t every Warner’s artist could go into business selling new stuff they once drew.
So when Marvel went after Friedrich, yes it was a warning that they will fight back. But let’s face it, $17,000 is not a huge amount of money these days and Disney said they needed it just to pay off the lawyers. But now that they know Gary was selling Ghost Rider stuff they had to do it. And I bet Gary will settle with them on something, if he doesn’t sue again.