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List of comics by country

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Comics have followed different paths of development throughout the world.

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  • ✪ Why Isn't SUPERMAN a PUBLIC DOMAIN Superhero?? || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync


- Copyright laws were initially created as a way to give creators exclusive rights to their creations for a limited time. That way it’s not like you do all this hard work only to have someone immediately steal it away from you. But when a copyright term is up, then like with basically all intellectual property, the work goes into the Public Domain, where anybody can tap into it. I mean, I’m oversimplifying a lot of this, but bear with me because Superman should be a Public Domain character by now. But he’s not. But he was. (rock music) Welcome to Comic Misconceptions. I’m Scott, and Superman his debut in June of 1938 in Action Comics #1. That’s a little over 77 years ago at the time I’m recording this video. According to the Copyright Act of 1976 any works copyrighted before 1978 that haven’t already entered the Public Domain had a term of protection for 75 years. But in 1998 all of that was increased to 95 years. Now I know that’s a lot of numbers and dates thrown at you right at the beginning of a video, but it’s kind of a big deal, because if the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 never passed, then comic book characters published before 1940 would be in the Public Domain today. This includes characters like Batman, Namor, Shazam, and of course Superman himself. Plus a few others. They would all be Public Domain characters by now. And when a work is in the Public Domain, it can be used freely, by anyone, without permission. For example, Bill Willingham, writer of the Fables comic series about characters from fairytales and folk lore, once said in an interview quote: “The sole determining factors on whether or not “something will be used are: 1) is the character or story “free for use, meaning in the public domain? “and, 2) do I want to use it? “That’s it. No other considerations apply.” And that seems to be working, because Fables is awesome! Now imagine if we could do that with popular comic book characters like Superman. You could publish your own Superman comic, or even film if you wanted to, without needing to ask first. Sort of; it’s a little more complicated than that. Let me try to explain using The Wizard of Oz as an example. The book ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ written L. Frank Baum in 1900 is in the Public Domain. There have been many adaptations of the story, including the one we all know, 1939’s The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, which is not in the Public Domain because its copyright hasn’t expired yet. So if you wanted to make a comic book with the characters or elements from The Wizard of Oz, you just have to make sure that you’re pulling inspiration from the book, not the movie. For example: the famous ruby slippers were made specifically for the movie, but were actually silver slippers in the book. So in the Fables comic that’s what’s shown: silver slippers. It’s pulling from the book, not the movie. Once the film officially enters the Public Domain, then you may use ruby slippers. What this means for Superman is that even if copyright laws still only protected published works for 75 years instead of 95, then sure, we would have the freedom to use Superman however we wanted today, however we could only use elements of the character published before 1940, because anything after that would still be protected by copyright. Put simply, we couldn’t use this Superman, we could only use this Superman. Plus, DC still has a ton of trademarks on the character like the name Superman, for example. The “S” symbol is probably another one they have. A lot of other things I’m sure. And trademarks can be infinitely renewed, so that is a super bummer. That was dumb. But believe it or not, there was actually a very brief time when Superman was in the Public Domain, technically. You may recall that way back in the day Superman publisher DC Comics was going out and suing anybody they could for any comic book character that even slightly resembled Superman, and one of those unlucky characters that DC thought infringed on Superman’s copyright was none other than Captain Marvel from Fawcett Comics. Just a quick note here that DC, at this point in time, was called National Comics Publications, but I’m still gonna refer to them as DC, because this is gonna make everything a lot easier. Now if you remember from our Captain Marvel video, the case was settled between DC and Fawcett out of court, but there is a lot more to this story. In the trial it was ruled that Captain Marvel did violate Superman’s copyright, but Fawcett Comics still won anyway. What? Scott, you’re talking crazy words! I know right? It sounds weird. But Fawcett had the best darn avocados at law on their side, who argued that even if they did infringe on Superman’s copyright it doesn’t matter, because DC had abandoned that copyright on Superman and therefore could not enforce it. And if that sounds a bit strange to you, let me explain. Keep in mind that I am not really good when it comes to this legal stuff, but I’ll try to make it as clear as I can knowing full well that I will definitely get something wrong. In the 1940’s DC had licensed the rights to a Superman newspaper comic strip to the McClure Newspaper Syndicate. Together they would publish Superman comic strips for a few years. Unfortunately, the McClure Syndicate kind of screwed up a bit. They neglected to copyright the newspaper strips, and didn’t even put the correct copyright symbol on the comics! Heck, many of the strips were completely devoid of any copyright notices! And since the McClure Syndicate was in business with DC, DC should’ve been on top of the situation. But they weren’t. So the trial court ruled that DC had abandoned their copyright on Superman when they didn’t make sure that the McClure Syndicate was copyrighting the Superman stories properly. And if they didn’t have a copyright then they couldn’t enforce anything against Fawcett and Captain Marvel. More importantly, when a copyright is forfeited it means the work would be in the Public Domain. This was the outcome of the trial. This was a thing that happened. DC no longer had a copyright on Superman. If anyone wanted to at this time, they could’ve published their own Superman comic and there is nothing DC could do about it! But of course DC appealed and the ruling was changed. The judge, Learned Hand, which yeah that was his real name, ruled that Fawcett was absolutely copying Superman with their character Captain Marvel. Which, honestly was not even in question; that’s what the first ruling said too. But he also said that, no, DC didn’t give up their copyright due to some mistake. For a copyright to be abandoned the copyright holder has to clearly and intentionally, that’s the key word, give up the copyright. It was not DC’s intent to abandon Superman. They love Superman! He makes them a lot of money. And they copyrighted all of their comic books, so why would it make sense to punish them for something the McClure Syndicate was responsible for? The judge ruled that DC’s Superman copyright was indeed enforceable, and Fawcett was once again on the losing side of the battle. But, of course, they settled out of court anyway. So for a brief moment in time, Superman was technically a Public Domain character and that is kind of neat. What do you guys think: will Superman or any other major comic book character ever truly be in the Public Domain? Should he be, and what kind of stuff would you do with the character if he was? Let’s talk about it all in the comments below. And also, as I said, I’m not really good with legal stuff, so I’m 100% positive that I got something wrong in this video, and if I did: please let me know in the comments so we can clear it all up. Also, I and the rest of the Nerdsync gang will be at VidCon this weekend! If you are also going I’d love to meet up with you guys and take some pictures, and hang out for a bit. I’m very excited for it. And that also means that there’s not gonna be a tie-in video for this week, but I’ll try to post something, probably from VidCon. If this is your first time hanging out with us here at Nerdsync, we make new videos every week because we believe that asking questions and examining comics beyond the surface can actually enhance your comic book reading experience, and make comics just a little bit more awesome. So make sure you hit that big, sexy subscribe button so you don’t miss out on anything. Once again, I’m Scott. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram and I’ll see you guys on Monday for an episode of the Nerdsync podcast available on iTunes and SoundCloud if I don’t get a video for Friday done. I probably will though. Alright, see ya!





North America


South America

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This page was last edited on 15 October 2019, at 17:20
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