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Let's say I create a fire-based character that has a flaming skull. No black leather jacket with spikes, no chains, no motorcycle (cuz we don't have any), no "Ghost" or "Rider" in his name.

My question is if the flaming skull by itself would make my character infringe copyright laws. I get confused with this sometimes, I really would like to use this concept on my character, but attracting the Big Mouse wrath to this game is absolutely the last thing I want.

So, is it cool to follow with this, or should I abandon the flaming skull concept for good?

Comments

  • themightyzeniththemightyzenith Posts: 4,371 Arc User
    edited November 2019
    It's cool, no probs. Marvel doesn't own the use of flaming skulls. From what you said you're not infringing on their IP.

    I have a flaming skull headed heroine called Hellrunner... mash up of Flash and Ghost Rider and have never had an issue.


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    Click here to check out my costumes/milleniumguardian (MG) in-game/We need more tights, stances and moods
  • brfabeirasbrfabeiras Posts: 158 Arc User
    That's some wonderful news! Thanks :)
  • themightyzeniththemightyzenith Posts: 4,371 Arc User
    brfabeiras wrote: »
    That's some wonderful news! Thanks :)

    Have fun :)

    zrdRBy8.png
    Click here to check out my costumes/milleniumguardian (MG) in-game/We need more tights, stances and moods
  • ealford1985ealford1985 Posts: 3,327 Arc User
    You could even go so far as to make a runner, like in track shorts and call him like Ghost Cyclist and give him a flame head and they couldn’t say anything.
  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 1,770 Arc User
    Ghost Rider (Marvel) and Atomic Skull (DC) have both persisted in their respective universes for decades, so the flaming skull motif clearly isn't proprietary. Heck, DC even has Dr. Polaris, a villainous "master of magnetism," but who otherwise bears little resemblance to Magneto.
  • brfabeirasbrfabeiras Posts: 158 Arc User
    That's nice to hear. I was afraid to get too restrained on ideas, but that's not the case. Awesome :)
  • pantagruel01pantagruel01 Posts: 6,615 Arc User
    I would note that you cannot, for example, use the published character in your bio, but in general if you aren't trying to make a clone or derivative character, it's not likely that you're in an issue.
  • dialamxdialamx Posts: 613 Arc User
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    Here's my character "Hell Toupee" who is meant to be a blatant parody of Ghost Rider. Business man with a cursed Toupee that turns him into a flaming skeleton of vengeance, complete with fire chains. It's not against copyright laws because it's not an exact copy. He wears a business suit, and his powers come from the flaming hair piece.

    On the other hand, I did have a Mortal Kombat homage character named Voltaic. He was meant to be an electric ninja in the style of Scorpion/Sub-Zero. I designed his look based off of their costumes and thought I was safe with my mix of Black, White, and Light-Blue color schemes, while using costume pieces that had electric, or lightning bolt, patterns. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and the character got Defaulted.
  • jonsillsjonsills Posts: 6,278 Arc User
    The classic guide is what we took to calling the Rule of Three: appearance, name, bio. If two of these are obviously copies (not homages, but straight up copies) of a trademarked character, you run the risk of violating trademark law (which is more dangerous than copyright, as trademarks must be "vigorously defended" or be lost - and that law doesn't really define "vigorous". That's how Bayer lost the trademark to the word Aspirin, and why Kimberly-Clark will sue the tailfeathers off anyone who calls their disposable facial tissues "kleenex" despite the common usage).

    There are, of course, shortcuts - if your flying brick is a white man with conservatively-cut black hair, wearing blue tights with red trunks, cape, and boots, and a yellow pentagonal symbol on the chest, you're probably going to get badnamed for copying Superman, no matter what you call him. But usually, it takes something like dressing your speedster up in a red outfit with a yellow lightning-bolt motif and then calling him "Barry Allen" in your bio (something I've actually seen) to get gigged on this.

    Yours is pretty clearly homage, not copy. I mean, you could make a Ghost Rider straight-up copy in here, although he'd have to be on a hoverbike, but what you've described isn't it.
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

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  • squirrelloidsquirrelloid Posts: 688 Arc User
    Yeah, the issue is going to be trademark, not copyright (copyright only protects specific works, not general look). The primary question for trademark is 'will it cause confusion amongst reasonable consumers'. (And free speech protections generally apply, although with some caveats that it's not worth getting into in this context).

    So a parody who doesn't outright copy the look or name is probably safe.
  • lezard21lezard21 Posts: 1,483 Arc User
    You can create a flaming skull leather jacket wearing character and call him Carl and it will be fine​​
    Guides are gone RIP
  • brfabeirasbrfabeiras Posts: 158 Arc User
    Been quite busy the last few days, thanks everybody for helping me out.

    Let's see if I understood correctly then:
    Just made this bad boy, it's a Casey Jones homage. His name will be Home Run or something baseball-related.
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    [x] Hockey Mask
    [x] Baseball Bat
    [x] Punk look

    Since I'm not naming him "Casey Jones" and the color scheme is different from the comics, it won't be a problem, right?
  • jonsillsjonsills Posts: 6,278 Arc User
    edited November 2019
    Sports-themed isn't enough for a violation claim - after all, DC has had an entire string of villains using the name Sportsmaster, as well as two alt-u variants named Sportsman. Your toon is safe, and looks pretty entertaining - too bad all Heavy Weapons powers (as far as I know) use the same skin, or you could swap out between baseball bat, hockey stick, etc. (Pity there's no cricket bat, as seen in combat action in Shaun of the Dead.)
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • brfabeirasbrfabeiras Posts: 158 Arc User
    Yeah, I miss more sports-themed options for melee weapons. I would love a golf bat, and since the hockey stick is for LTS only, I won't use it anytime soon :/

    About the skins, the best I could do so far was duplicating the same costume with different weapons and then switching the costume slots outside combat. It would be awesome if we could differentiate skins from SB, DB and HW.
  • ealford1985ealford1985 Posts: 3,327 Arc User
    Make him a skeleton an call him Casey Bones
  • brfabeirasbrfabeiras Posts: 158 Arc User
    Make him a skeleton an call him Casey Bones

    Now that's a good idea, with a flaming baseball bat :p
  • ealford1985ealford1985 Posts: 3,327 Arc User
    Now your talking, he fight along side the Teenage Qlipthhoic Ninja Terror
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