Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 16, 2004

All Quiet on the Legal Front

As legal matters gear up, there's always room for analysis:

imageStripburger "Piracy" Seizure

Here's a sharp local article about U.S. Customs holding strips featuring Richie Rich and Peanuts parodies in Charleston, South Carolina. It's a measured piece, which is ironic because it definitely lacks the alarmism the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund feared in originally giving the U.S. Customs Department time to respond to their letters.

The best thing about the article is the legal analysis that stresses more protection is offered works that use popular motifs and characters to parody the thing itself, rather than using those elements to simply parody something else, which may give us an idea as to how the case might be eventually decided. Having seen Kuper's work, I think it definitely meets that requirement, despite how it may have been perceived -- it's natural that people are going to see Bush first, a dissection of Harvey Comics second.

Marvel Vs. City of Heroes

I was less impressed with another piece of legal analysis, this one regarding the Marvel lawsuit against the makers of the videogame City of Heroes. My objections are along the lines of what I wrote previously. It seems silly to argue Marvel's suit as a full-frontal assault on free expression when it looks like what at issue is how much the game makers have encouraged and enabled their customers to use close approximations, not that such play took place. If this is in effect an attack on free expression, I wish that argument were being made rather than these loaded broadsides.

I don't think the suit has merit; I just don't think the real issues are being argued.
posted 8:54 am PST | Permalink

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