Copyright ETC.

LiamMrK2LiamMrK2 Website User Posts: 77
edited September 2016 in General

I'm wanting to do a project where a character is building their life around the life of a certain comic book character.
I want to make this series, as well as make it able to be monetized, but I have a feeling that I would be infringing on copyright even if I put a disclaimer in the description or at the beginning of each video saying "*Character* is a copyright of *company*, all rights reserved to *company*".

What do you think?

I know I could always go the comedic route and make up a character similar enough to the one I want to use, but also not too similar in order to have no possibility of infringement.
I'm not too worried about the company's copyright claims, as my video series will likely not make it very big, but I am worried about Youtube's copyright codes.

Thank you for reading!


  • SteveKarstensenSteveKarstensen Website User Posts: 336
    edited September 2016

    If it doesn't belong to you, you're infringing.  Whether you make it big or not doesn't matter; I've had lawyers come politely inquiring over cover songs I've made that didn't even sell five copies.

    You likely won't trip YouTube's automated filters, but most of the big comic book companies do in fact run searches on their IP and send C&Ds to people using them, regardless of how small.

    You might get away with a fair use/parody exception depending on the content of your video, but honestly?  My rule of thumb is, the moment you start looking for ways to wiggle out of possible infringement, you may as well find something else to do.  I mean, look at it this way; do you really want to waste your time producing something that might get taken down?

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,281 Ambassador

    That said, it depends on the copyright holder. Disney and Lucasfilm, for example, are pretty forgiving of fan films (Lucasfilm even has run fan film contests), while other studios are less so. CBS and Paramount have been forgiving of Star Trek films in the past, but, this year they lowered the boom. The BBC is forgiving of Doctor Who fan films, is known to feature fan work on their site, and the Capaldi titles are actually licensed from a fan work! 

    If you think you're infringing on copyright, you are. Now... Will the rights holder come after you? Probably not. Half of Corridor Digital's stuff is derivative of copyright as well as everything batinthesun does. If it's clearly a parody, you've got the "cartoonist defense" on your side, but the bottom line is it's a risk. 

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,868 Ambassador

    Agree with everything the guys said above, would add one thing you can get away with that I have seen is by making references or look and feel of the comic book character without actually showing, or naming. So like Iron Man hud in Hitfilm, clearly we all know that Iron Man right but you don't need to say that. Just an idea.

  • kevin_nkevin_n Website User Posts: 1,928 Enthusiast
    edited September 2016

    what OP could do is make a spin off, change the story and a few changes to the character, I don't think they care if you're not a real threat against them, but better be safe. 


  • AxelWilkinsonAxelWilkinson Staff Administrator, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 5,242 Staff

    Or, contact the copyright holder of the character you are interested in, explain what your project is, and ask permission. That way you know for certain whether they care, if they are ok with you using the character or not, and whether they are going to want any licensing fees from you, and everything is aboveboard. 

  • FlyingBanana78FlyingBanana78 Website User Posts: 419 Enthusiast

    That is exactly what I did recently for a little project I did, I contacted a company about using one of their clips in a short video I did and asked them if I could have permission to use it. And the process made me feel so much better "Knowing" that they were alright with it and plus I had it in writing that I was authorized to use the clip. Was only requested to notate the source of the clip and the creator of the original clip that I used.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,281 Ambassador
    edited September 2016

    @AxelWilkinson well, yeah, if you want to do it right, you get permission. ;-) 

    That said, if you ask for a license and you are denied, or fees beyond what you can afford, then change the project. You've called attention to yourself already and greatly increase risk of copyright takedown. Be very thorough in asking for licensing--let the copyright holder know who you are, your budget, your current audience reach... This example is a live theater example, so doesn't 100% apply, but, a decade ago one of the theater companies I worked with did a fundraiser performance of unstaged readings of the first six episodes of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" radio scripts (aka "Primary Phase."). Initially, after the producer wrote the Douglas Adams estate,  the fee was greater than the entire possible income of the fundraiser. Once the audio designer (me) wrote back and specified we were a 50-seat house at $10/ticket doing four performances (i.e. $2000 if we sold out completely), a $5000 license fee became $50. Some companies will work with you, some won't.

    Another note: YouTube is messed up on copyright claims. YouTube operates under "guilty until proven innocent," which one might recognize as the exact opposite of the foundations of Western Law. My account has an active copyright strike--the animation used two free models from, two original background plates, and James Horner music. Now, one might think if a copyright claim was made it would be the James Horner music, but, nope, it's not Horner's estate or ASCAP filing the claim, it's a power plant in Israel. The "infringing element" is the starfield background, and, despite sending YouTube the animation, the Hitfilm project file for the animation and the Hitfilm project and Photoshop project for my starfield (procedurally generated in Hitfilm, stitched to a Spherical Panorama in Photoshop), YouTube will not clear this copyright strike off my account. 

    As a side note, Warner Bros has been on an aggressive series of copyright claims on Google and YouTube. Warners was so aggressive they flagged themselves for copyright violation and got some of their own videos removed and sites flagged. 

    And yet, a Google search for crackz or warez or torrents instantly lets one steal from others.  Google is a bit hypocritical. 

  • kevin_nkevin_n Website User Posts: 1,928 Enthusiast

    I'm too scared to try this, but I think that this question has already been answered. xD

    I think we're approaching ways to bend the rules at this point.

  • SteveKarstensenSteveKarstensen Website User Posts: 336

    I've also had to "clear" copyright strikes against my own original compositions on YouTube, because they're officially released on CDBaby.  So, if I upload my own songs then they'll match against CDBaby's copyright data and get tagged.  Youtube's lifted the strikes when I tell them "I wrote it, you tards", but I can't really complain.  It's doing its job in that regard.

    Marvel is really aggressive about their copyrights on YouTube.  I know of multiple Punisher fan films that have been hit with C&D's recently, probably because of the new Daredevil season.  So if the big M was the one holding the copyright on the character you want to use, you're at risk.

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