Re: Sonic Story Legalistics Questions

From: Erich Schulman (KTN4CA) -- Team OS/2 <"Erich>
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 1995 19:21:49 -0500 (EST)

On Tue, 14 Feb 1995, David M. Pistone wrote:

> You know, a friend of mine has always said that nothing is illegal until
> someone complains.

That's technically not true, but let's not open that pandora's box.
> (1) You MUST acknoledge the fact that parts of the story (i.e. characters,
> plots, etc.) are borrowed from someone else. Preferably at the beginning
> of the story.

I think it's only right to give credit where credit is due. But don't
think a "Copyright and TM Walt Disney" notice will get you off the hook
if you start selling Mickey Mouse T-shirts without a license from Disney.
> (2) You MUST NOT ask for nor accept any type of compensation for your
> story (i.e. money, cash, etc). If you do, the original authors will
> almost surly get ticked off at you for making a profit at their expense.

That may help you get a "Fair Use" ruling in court, but lack of a profit
motive is not a complete defence in an infringement suit. But as you
say, a profit motive present will likely eliminate any chance the
owner(s) will choose to ignore what is technically an infringement.
> One other thing, even though you use someone else's characters, it's
> important to place a copyright notice in your story that identifies you
> as the original author of that particular work. That way, if SEGA or
> whoever reads your story and likes it and wants to turn it into a movie,
> they'll pay whoever can prove that the story is their's. A copyright
> notice will help.

As long as your work was created on or after 1/1/78, you automatically
get copyright protection for whatever portion is yours, even if the work
is ruled infringing in court. A copyright notice is very prudent. It is
also prudent to register your work within five years with the Copyright
Office so you will have prima facie evidence if you are the plaintiff in
an infringement suit (and you must register to file suit at all).

I did take a copyright law course; however, this message is not to be
construed as legal advice or an attempt to practice law. When in doubt,
consult a copyright law attorney.

Erich Schulman (KTN4CA)
Team OS/2

Received on Tue Feb 14 1995 - 19:25:57 PST

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