1. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    Would you call this plagerism?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheDarkWriter, Aug 17, 2012.

    Okay my main villain wears mask that's stated to be a replica of Doctor's Doom's(from the movie's) mask. I don't hide in fact many characters refer to the main villian as a "Doctor Doom rip off" the reason he wears it is so that no one knows who he is. I should also note that he gets his mask after killing his first victim who owns a shop of some kind (haven't come up with that yet). I don't think it can be called plagerism because I'm aknowledging the mask is of Doctor Doom. However I'm not very sure.
     
  2. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    IMO (emphasis on IMO) it's not plagiarism.
     
  3. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    It's not plagiarism but it is copyright infringement.
     
  4. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    fwc577, why do you think that? The OP stated he's(?) acknowledging the source, so how can it be copyright infringement?
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Acknowledging the source or giving credit is relevant to plagiarism, but it's not relevant to copyright infringement. If you photocopy one of Stephen King's books, announce on the cover, "I didn't write this! Stephen King did!" and sell or give away the result, that acknowledgement isn't going to help you.
     
  6. Morwen Edhelwen
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    Morwen Edhelwen Member

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    It's much clearer now. Thanks, ChickenFreak.
     
  7. webghoul
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    webghoul Member

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    I think you will have to ask for the author's consent regarding this. Don't know much about this, but I think it sort of falls under adapting someone else's intellectual property, so you have to let the author's permission before adapting it. :) IMHO.
     
  8. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    Yes, Dr. Doom is a trademark of Marvel. It's their creation. You can't take their creation and adapt any part of it into your own works. Plagiarism is outright copying entire works or sections of works and adding it to your work.

    Creating a book set in James Cameron's world of Avatar would fall under legality issues because he has it copyrighted and trademarked. They are his creations and his alone.

    Creating a book set in Forks, Washington and adopting an entire chapter of Twilight into your novel would be plagiarism. Simply setting a novel in Forks, Washington wouldn't trigger any copyright or tradmarks because it is a real location. However, if you suddenly have an Indian dude named Jacob pop up in your novel then you are borderlining on a copyright and a trademark.


    PS. Don't bother trying to contact Marvel and getting consent to use something like one of their characters because you're not going to get it.
     
  9. webghoul
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    webghoul Member

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    -- i second the thought. :D
     
  10. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    Sounds like you know this from experience!

    I agree with you about creating a book set in Forks. What if, however, you create a fanfic about the vampires having all kinds of borderline porny relationships - then change all their names and publish it as your own? *cough cough.

    Anyway, to the original OP, there's a fine line. In some ways, things in the public arena are fair game for referencing. In other ways, you have to be very careful of trademark violations as others have said. I guess it depends on how much you play it up. If it's referenced once, like it's his favorite superhero, maybe you can get away with it. But regardless, make sure, if it is picked up for publishing, that your publisher does their due diligence in getting either the proper approval, or in getting the proper legal advice.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd take my inspiration from it, but I wouldn't actually use the name of a copyrighted character.
     
  12. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    There's a huge difference between plagiarism, copywright infringement, and weaving your story around a plot that's already been used. One is using the exact words/devices/settings, one deals with re-using ideas/characters in different settings and what not, and the last one is something all writers throughout the ages have done. They've looked at a story that was successful, looked at the plot structure, took it, and then weaved their own story within the seams.

    However, I do know one thing about copywrighted material, if the person who is considered the originator, or what have you, has been dead for a period of time, then you can do whatever the hell you want with those characters. For instance, I've wrote a few short stories (though they will probably never be published or even see the light of day again) that include Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and Poe's C. Auguste Dupin, amongst some characters of my own creation.

    I'm sure a quick search will learn you some of the details of copywrights and how long Marvel has been around, etc.
     
  13. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    As far as I'm concerned, your novel villain can wear any mask - from Darth Vader, to Spiderman to Dr Doom.

    The fact that he wears a plastic Darth Vader or Doctor Doom mask he bought somewhere, doesn't mean that you are infringing on anybody's copyright.

    Only if your villain is actually just like "Doctor Doom", and calls himself "Doctor Doom", and does whatever the real "Doctor Doom" does, then it would be a copyright problem.

    I am not a lawyer, of course, but a villain in a novel wearing a plastic character mask, shouldn't create any copyright problems. At least in theory it shouldn't....



    Good Luck,

    Dryriver
     
  14. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Unfortunately, there's no should's in the law. The original poster, unless the story is for his personal consumption, is treading closely to copyright infringement. You might get away with a term or phrase like "mini-me" if you mention your character watched Austin Powers, but you certainly couldn't call a character mini-me and have him as a miniature version of yourself. I'm always paying homage to some movie in my novels, either through the use of a single line or reference. It's my way of saying "Hey, guys! Loved you work! Wink Wink."
     
  15. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    X2

    If you are not duplicating the character, it is neither copyright infringement nor plagiarism*. You are making a reference to the intellectual property of a 3rd party, but you are citing the owner, and you are not utilizing the character for your own purposes (you are not writing fanfic). I doubt you need permission from Ford every time you pen a story that has a Mustang of F150 in it.

    Also, I doubt that you are famous enough, nor that the story will sell enough copies, for Marvel to even notice/care. I mean no disrespect, I'm just throwing that out there.



    *I'm not a lawyer, I'm a jackass on the internet. Contact a lawyer if you want to be 100% positive about how things would sort out in court.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one here is a literary attorney you're paying to advise you on the legality of this issue... as LK notes above, when in doubt, hie thee to a lawyer!
     
  17. Zack Winchester
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    Zack Winchester Member

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    This hit me like a slap because I actually did something like this in the novel I'm currently writing. There is a costume party scene in my novel in which I mention what costumes some of the people around are using: A guy is using a "Superman" costume, and woman a "Cat Woman" costume, etc. No big deal, because I can easily change it into: the guy with the superhero costume or something like that. Still, this has put me in doubt of if it is copyright infringement or not.

    In the same scene, there are other people using a Frankenstein monster, Dracula and Wolfman costumes, which in this case I know it doesn’t matter because the creators of these characters are long dead.

    Nevertheless, recently in a Richelle Mead novel I read, I remember a character that put on a Dark maul mask to scare the lead character.

    Which it got me a bit confused of if it can be done or not.

    Anyway, as a response to the original poster, you can always describe the mask he's using without mentioning the name Doctor Doom.
     
  18. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again, in my totally unqualified opinion (IMTUO), mentioning/referencing a character is not the same as using a character. To quote from rightsofwriter.com:
    So as long as Dr.Doom is not ACTUALLY in the story, and as long as you are not trying to change/add/modify Dr. Doom's character, you SHOULD be fine IMTUO. It makes sense, that if a character walks into a store and sees a Star Trek DVD for sale, it is not reasonable to assume you have to license the STAR TREK franchise. Think about how hellish movies would be to produce if you had to get permission for everything that the camera shoots. The Starbucks in the background, 5 different automotive brands, the clothing brands, the school the main characters attend. Nothing would ever be produced, ever.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mentioning brand names and/or characters is not a problem... just don't use the characters themselves in your story, or badmouth the brand/product...
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Except for fiction-related trademarks. Because you are competing in the same market (literature/fiction) trademark violation becomes actionable.
     
  21. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    A registered trade name is another matter, but I don't see why you cannot use the same character name otherwise. On the other hand, it may add to confusion so that could work against the use of such name. Dr Doom is also the nick name of a professor in economics, Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the crisis in 2008.
    To support the issue: if you write a parody on a well-known story you probably want to use the same names to strengthen your story concept. The parody is a new Work and as such a new copyright.

    HTH
     
  22. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    This exactly.

    Now, someone compared this to the use of Ford in a novel. This isn't at all the same. Even if the Ford truck is somehow a central point of your story it will still be protected under fair use. A ford is a product, not an idea. However, if the cover of your novel uses the Ford logo then your going to get in trouble.

    Second, someone mentioned characters wearing costumes at a party. That is perfectly fine as well. Again, it is protected under fair use and you are talking in terms of a product (a costume) and not their persona.

    Third, the OP's villian wears a replica mask of a villian from an intellectual property he doesn't own. This is where it gets dicey. And as Cogs pointed out, Dr. Doom is considered a literature villian and you are essentially ripping that villian's appearance off for your own gain.
     
  23. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is also, sadly, the "they have bigger lawyers than you have" factor. If the use of someone else's intellectual property isn't essential to my story, then I'm probably not going to pursue it, even if it seems pretty clear that it would be fair use. That's not fair or right, but it's just not one of the areas where I'm interested in putting myself at risk.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Fair use has nothing to do with trademarks. Fair use applies to copyrighted material, and only applies to use in reviews, academic essays, and similat non profit uses. It never applies to use in fiction.

    And trademark infringement applies equally to ALL trademarked content, including logos, fictional characters and places, and trademarked phrases. Trademark applies in circumstances where your use competes in the same markets as the trademarked content, thereby potentially impacting the business of the trademark owner. So you can mention Ford trucks in fiction, but if you produce your own line of trucks and call them Vord trucks, their lawyers will be lining up to sue you. Your product name is clearly benefiting from a similarity to a trademarked name, and at the expense of Ford's business and reputation.

    Copyright is automatic. Trademarks must be applied for, and may be denied. They are very different legal entities.
     
  25. marktx
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    marktx Contributing Member

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    I would stay away from it. Characters are the assets for any comic book publishing enterprise, and if I were in Marvel's shoes, I would be aggressively defending my assets.

    The creative danger I see in using Dr. Doom is that because the villain has chosen that likeness and very likely identifies with the comic book character in some way, there is a risk that he will want to say and do some Dr. Doom-ish things, which takes you even further down the slippery slope.

    My own inclination would be to create a comic book character and use that mask instead. Of course, since I'm a little warped, I would probably have my villain wear the cutest, cuddliest, most cloyingly adorable mask I could cook up. But that's just me.
     

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