Lora Innes on Fan Art

201209200209 Lora Innes on Fan Art
Lora Innes, creator of THE DREAMER, has a post up about fan art based on her characters. Short version: she approves and enjoys it, but she also provides some guidelines. A sample:

▪ YES: Drawing my characters/writing fan fics/makings songs/fan videos, etc for the love it. When this is posted online, adding proper link backs and credits.
▪ NO: Selling prints, advertising space on a fan site, making shirts, buttons or anything else that draws a monetary value.
▪ YES: gifs and memes that celebrate the fandom, with a link back to The Dreamer.
▪ NO: gifs, memes or fan art that does not coincide with the spirit of myself or The Dreamer. (Not limited to but including adult themes, harsh language, hateful/critical/mean spirited subjects. If you wouldn’t see it in my comic, please don’t associate me or my work with it outside my comic.)


THE DREAMER is a webcomic (a print collection is available from IDW) about a 17-year-old contemporary girl who goes back to the Revolutionary War for adventure…in her dreams. It’s easy to see how fans would be attracted to the idea and a lot of what Innes is asking for is just common sense…but also fairly unenforceable. Or, as someone says in the comments:

So much of it seems harmless, I had no idea it was technically copyright infringement. Guess I’ve been breaking the law since I first started making Ghostbusters fan-comics in second grade… ;)


It isn’t just the big guys who have to worry about fan-made prints and so on.

UPDATE: Oops, apologies for misspelling Innes’s name. =(

Comments

  1. comicsatemybrain says:

    Just out of curiosity (as I am not a lawyer), has Innes trademarked this property?

    If so, do her statements constitute a public statement that she will not adequately (from a legal point of view) defend that trademark? My understanding (again, I’m not a lawyer) is that a trademark holder must vigorously defend against uses of the trademarked property by third parties that are not specifically licensed to do so.

    In other words, can a trademark holder pick and choose the instances of unlicensed trademark use that they pursue? Or are they required to pursue all uses of the trademark that aren’t associated with an explicit license?

  2. Synsidar says:

    In other words, can a trademark holder pick and choose the instances of unlicensed trademark use that they pursue? Or are they required to pursue all uses of the trademark that aren’t associated with an explicit license?

    According to one informed source, statements such as Innes’s aren’t legally binding. She has control over her properties:

    The key point to remember is this: Fan fiction and fan art are, usually, an infringement of the right of the copyright holder to prepare and license derivative works based on the original. This is almost without exception.

    However, many copyright holders, for good reasons, tolerate fan art and even encourage it, but this should not be taken as carte blanche to do what you want with the source material. There are many lines that a fan artist can cross and wind up in legal trouble.

    Your best bet is to study the rules for your community and obey them closely. If you do that, you should be fine but always remember that your creations only exist through the good graces of the copyright holder and they can change their mind at any point.

    Trademark violations are apparently only concerns when a fan’s use of them creates confusion in the marketplace. The fan would be nailed for copyright violations, presumably, before the trademark violations became damaging.

    SRS

  3. @comicsatemybrain: “In other words, can a trademark holder pick and choose the instances of unlicensed trademark use that they pursue? Or are they required to pursue all uses of the trademark that aren’t associated with an explicit license?”

    Short answer is no, long answer is very long! :) But basically, the legal concept you’re thinking of is “failure to police,” which is one of many reasons a judge could rule that a trademark has been abandoned IF that trademark is later contested by someone else.

    The idea is that you have to use reasonable measures to police your trademarks to indicate that you still care about them and consider them valuable. And “reasonable” is one of those wonderfully subjective things that could vary from judge to judge. If you have some kind of regular program for monitoring infringements and you happen to miss a couple, no judge would interpret that as abandonment.

    I don’t like linking to things in comments, but since it’s on-topic, more thoughts: http://bit.ly/NF1tb7

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