Actually, as a non-law person, I don't get it. Why does the person who "invented" the character later get to sue the people who invented it first? Seems to me it should be the other way around and that Cosmic Comics (or whatever) should pay royalties to Nate the Great.
I get it from a legal standpoint, having seen something similar- "adverse possession". It seems that if you don't prosecute people for tresspass, that gives them a legal easement to your property that you can't prosecute them for later. I think both types of common use law are counterproductive- they result in all property owners and copyright owners having to act like dicks, bringing big legal clubs down on the heads of people who meant no harm, just to avoid future "public domain" rulings. If you want to see what I mean, try painting Mickey Mouse on the wall of your daycare center. I think this falls under the heading of "legal rules designed to drum up more business for lawyers".
There's also the fact that no sensible movie company, after the Watchmen near-debacle, will take on a project without guarantees that all copyright claims are settled. I would have preferred to contract with the Nate the Great folks for a nominal amount of money for them to give up all claims re: all Emily the Strange and associated entities in all forms of media in the past, present and future, on this planet or others, but maybe a lawsuit actually is the easier/faster way to get the same result.
Am I understanding this right? The newer user of the character is suing the original user of the character for infringement? This is why I could never be a lawyer -- it's just way too arbitrary and illogical.
kimc,No, no, the Emily folks are not suing the Nate folks for infringement; they're suing for a declaratory judgment that Emily does not infringe on a Nate character. See here for the Complaint. If they win, they're safe from being sued by the Nate folks later on.
So, it's preemptive strike to say "you gave it to me. You can't take it back!" on the part of the thief? Is that right?
No, I don't think Cosmic Debris is making exactly an adverse possession type of argument that Joel mentions. Rather, they're claiming primarily that they never were stealing from Nate the Strange in the first place because the concept of a "goth" girl with cats is not copyrightable, and only secondarily that the failure of the Nate the Great folks to have objected in the past 18 years precludes them from objecting now. It should be noted that at least according to the Complaint, the Nate the Strange folks *have* been "contacting entities with whom Cosmic Debris has entered into ‘Emily the Strange’ agreements, or with whom it is negotiating to enter into such agreements, and claimed that ‘Emily the Strange’ infringes Defendants’ copyrights in the ‘Nate the Great’ series in some manner."
I couldn't figure out how to use the trackback url, but I used this blogpost to introduce a blogpost of my own http://diggitt.blogspot.com/2009/06/thank-goodness-lord-peter-didnt-kill.html
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